Enacted on March 14, 2014, the Law on Consumer Protection of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is the first law comprehensively addressing consumer issues in the country. An amendment to this law, however, is being considered by the Parliament to incorporate more specific provisions on product safety and liability, so as to better protect the consumers of Myanmar. In Myanmar, relevant government ministries protect the rights of consumers in respective sectors in accordance with relevant existing laws.
Department of Consumer Affairs was organized on April 1st 2016 under the Ministry of Commerce as the focal organization for consumer protection activities and the department works in cooperation with relevant government ministries, non-governmental consumer organizations and private sector organizations for product safety activities, consumer redress activities and consumer education activities. Myanmar also works in cooperation with regional and international organizations for consumer protection activities. Department of Consumer Affairs is also in the process of preparing National Consumer Protection Program and Standard Operation Procedures for Consumer Dispute Settlement Activities with the support from international organizations.
Consumer Protection Central Committee, and Regional, State and District Consumer Dispute Settlement Bodies were also set-up in accordance with the Law. Consumer Information and Complaint Centers are being established in Regions and States.
The national designated agency for consumer protection, according to the Consumer Protection Law, is the Consumer Protection Central Committee, which comprises of the Union Minister of the Ministry of Commerce as Chairman, the Deputy Ministers from the respective Ministries, the Heads from respective government departments and organisations, the representatives from the non-government organisations and experts as members and persons assigned duty by the Chairman as Secretary and Joint-Secretary.
According to the Law, the Central Committee is responsible for: policy formulation; conducting surveys; issuing notifications, orders, directives and notifications as necessary in accordance with the Consumer Protection Law; settling consumer complaints; informing the relevant departments and organisations about the prohibition of goods that are not fit for consumption – forming standardisation experts groups and laboratories for product testing in coordination with the Ministry of Education; and receiving and hearing appeal cases on administrative penalties passed by the Consumer Dispute Settlement Bodies.
As of date, the Central Committee has been established in accordance with the Union Cabinet’s Executive Order No. 38/2014, 112/2016, and 15/2017. The Department of Consumer Affairs under the Ministry of Commerce serves as a secretariat to the Central Committee.
The Law also provides for the establishment of Consumer Dispute Settlement Bodies at State, Regional and District levels, by the orders of the Central Committee (Section 16). Regional or State Consumer Dispute Settlement Bodies are responsible for conducting field visits and market inspection activities, investigating complaints, mediating and conciliating consumer disputes, imposing administrative penalties in accordance with Section 19 of Consumer Protection Law upon finding infringements of the law (Section 7 and 8), and taking actions in accordance with the Consumer Protection Law and other relevant existing laws while working in coordination with relevant government Ministries. Those who are not satisfied with the decisions of Consumer Dispute Settlement Bodies relating to administrative penalties could make an appeal through Consumer Protection Central Committee within 60 days starting from the date on which the decision is passed. The consumer complaint cases which fall under sector section 9 through 14 will be imposed imprisonment or fine or with both in accordanc with section 23. Consumer could also sue for their injury under civil litigation although convicted under Section 23.
In addition, the Central Committee also established the Product Safety Working Committee and t3he Consumer Complaint Working Committee under Regional and State Consumer Dispute Settlement Bodies.