Kazakhstan to Introduce Institute of the Ombudsperson to Protect Consumer Rights

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan will introduce the institute of the ombudsperson for the protection of consumer rights as part of the updated draft law package for the protection of consumer rights, reports the Kazakh Prime Minister’s press service.

Minister Sultanov. Photo credit: primeminister.kz

The ombudsperson will directly report systemic violations of the rights of citizens to top government officials. 

Along with the institute of ombudsperson, the suggested amendments include the creation of the National Association of Consumers. According to the results of a sociological survey conducted by the Ministry of Trade and Integration, 56 percent of the 20,000 respondents were in favor of creating the association and an ombudsperson institute. 

“Improving the quality of life of the people of Kazakhstan is directly linked to improving the level of consumer protection, which is an indicator of the development of fair and competitive entrepreneurship. Consumers who are confident in their rights ensure an active demand for quality goods, works, and services. This contributes to economic development,” said Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin during the government meeting on Tuesday. 

The work in this area has been ongoing since 2020.

“The development of the consumer protection system can be seen in the dynamics. Due to the amendments to the legislation adopted last year, an interdepartmental council under the government has been created, which was given the functions of state control. Administrative responsibility for violations of consumer rights was introduced. A three-stage system of reviewing complaints has been built,” Kazakh Minister of Trade and Integration Bakhyt Sultanov outlined what his ministry has been doing to increase the protection of consumer rights and provide the domestic market with safe and quality goods and services.

Since the beginning of this year, consumers can leave their appeals at a unified information system based on the one-stop-shop principle. 

The number of appeals, however, is increasing at a staggering rate from 6,000 in 2019 to over 2,000 in 2020. In 2021 alone, the platform received more than 21,000 complaints. According to Sultanov, this indicates not only problems in the market but also a gradual increase in the consumer culture among citizens. 

People are mostly concerned about housing and communal services, retail, medical, tourist services, communications, and transport.

Sultanov said that all these efforts should balance both the interests of society and businesses.

“In this reform, technical regulation and standardization, which are inextricably linked with the consumer protection system, are essential. These two directions are aimed to ensure the safety and quality of products and services provided to consumers,” he said. 

There are nearly 3,000 national standards for quality and safety indicators for products and services in all spheres, but they are still not used widely.

Mamin told the government to make proposals to improve the legal regulation in electronic commerce by the end of this year to prevent violations of consumer rights when they shop online. 

E-commerce has been growing fast in Kazakhstan after the pandemic hit the country. According to official statistics, the market volume for 2020 exceeded 1.2 trillion tenge (US$2.7 billion) almost doubling compared to 2019. The upward trend will continue and the e-commerce market is expected to reach 1.9 trillion tenge (US$4.4 million) by 2022.

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