V G Patel, chairman of the Economist and Consumer Education Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad, has written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan to include consumer protection in the upcoming budget. In his letter, Patel said government grants are crucial for consumer organisations. He suggested that the budget should include provision of around Rs 100 crore, instead of the current amount that is less than Rs 50 crore, for consumer welfare.
Calling for the budget to increase purchasing power of consumers, Patel requested the government to not raise excise and indirect taxes on essential items and not reduce subsidies.
Of the Rs 100 crore Patel has proposed for the Consumer Protection and Welfare Fund, Rs 30 crore can be set aside for consumer organisations.
Further, Rs 25 crore can be allocated to setting up independent product testing laboratories in consumer protection agencies to check adulteration and control claims made by companies about their products, while Rs 20 crore can be used to extend consumer protection to rural consumers. A sum of Rs 25 crore, Patel says, can be allocated for strengthening manpower and infrastructure of district and state level consumer forums.