Petroleum consumer complaint mechanism in 3 months
By Imsha Iqbal
A mechanism to ensure the protection of petroleum consumers’ rights is expected to be finalised within a period of three months, The Morning Business learns.
Speaking to us, Energy Ministry Secretary K.D. R. Olga said that the aforementioned mechanism can be finalised when the regulations are made for the implementation of the consumer protection mechanism. Therefore, the whole process would take a duration of three months.
Most importantly, the regulations on implementing the mechanism need to be independent and transparent to ensure the protection of petroleum consumers’ rights.
Olga said: “The Development Section has been already informed on the mentioned need of having these regulations.” She stressed the importance of having regulations as per the instructions of the Cabinet prior to the mechanism implementation, as it goes along with a Complaint Handling and Dispute Resolution Procedure.
The Ministry Secretary further stated: “The regulations can appear as a guideline for the practical, transparent mechanism,” explaining that regulations are anticipated to stand as a set of guidelines, while the Development Section also looks forward to publishing these regulations in a handbook to aid the implementation of the mechanism. Also, the aforementioned handbook would be helpful in informing the consumer.
The need for a practical mechanism for receiving and resolving complaints from petroleum consumers has been highlighted in this procedure for complaint handling as well as consumer dispute resolution, from the part of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL).
When it comes to consumer rights, currently, the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) acts as the main state body in protecting consumer interests as well as ensuring fair market consumption in Sri Lanka. The Consumer Affairs Authority Act No.09 of 2003 empowers the CAA with legal provisions in taking necessary actions to safeguard consumer interests.
Therefore, the CAA is directly involved in the process along with Sri Lanka Customs, the Consumer Services Authority, Sri Lanka Police, and Sri Lanka Standards Institute.
The PUCSL was established under the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (Ceypetco) as the apex body in regulating the petroleum industry in Sri Lanka. The PUCSL, however, has been limited in its role of advising and assisting the policies of the Ministry of Energy with regard to regulation of the lubricant industry. Therefore, the PUCSL also needs to focus on the said Complaint Handling and Dispute Resolution Procedure, because it is a novel responsibility that the Committee has to bear.
Thus, a “Declaration of Consumer Rights and Responsibilities” will also be implemented.
Ceypetco is a state enterprise that was initially the only entity holding responsibility for all petroleum industry-related activities, such as the import, export, sale, supply, and distribution of petroleum products. Currently, however, a number of other parties are also engaged in such activities.