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The budding Trade Practice and Consumers Protection Authority (TPCPA) which falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Trade is getting ready to begin activities that they say will help overburdened consumers and legal traders.
Formed by proclamation number 685/2010 and headed by a Director General, TPCPA was tasked with safeguarding the rights and privileges of consumers, inspecting traded goods, and making buying and selling more efficient.
The Director General oversees departments specializing in research, investigation, dissemination, an attorney general and implementation. These divisions are involved in corporate communications, work process upgrading and human resources, audit services, financial service and plan information management.
TPCPA says it has been fully functional since April and since then has conducted 15 workshops involving more than 5,000 people to publicize its mission.
Merkebu Zeleke Director General of the Authority said their activities have been largely invisible to the public until now because, they were undergoing a major overhaul and restructuring. They have been conducting trainings for their workers and for police which helps enforce the Agency’s rules. They have also been using their own staff to assess the market for industrial products, while working with other government agencies to assess agricultural products.
Merkebu added that the requirements to operate a business are clear. It must have registered capital, a Tax Identification Number, approved capacity to do the stated activity, and a business address. Yet he says that there are still problems with illicit traders and some traders that are forging receipts.
Right now he says the Authority is trying to combat this problem by conducting orientations and symposiums. They cannot presently punish food outlets for raising their prices when subjected to Value added Tax (VAT) and others who increase their price for their goods and services citing high rent prices.
“There is a misperception among some traders that VAT is a cost imposition on them, when it’s in fact intended for consumers,” said Merkebu adding that this problem can only be fundamentally solved by the creation of an open and transparent trade regime.