ASTANA – Kazakhstan will create a position of Ombudsperson on Consumer Protection as part of the draft law to protect consumer rights, said Minister of Trade and Integration Serik Zhumangarin at a June 19 government meeting, reported the Prime Minister’s press service.
The ombudsperson is expected to coordinate all problems and complaints related to consumer protection.
Besides the introduction of the new position, the draft law also includes streamlining the consumer complaint process from four stages to two stages, introducing civil legal liability in the form of court-ordered fines to incentivize businesses to address legitimate consumer claims voluntarily, and expanding the fundamental principles of consumer protection to cover public utilities, transportation, health, tourism, communications.
The work in this area has been ongoing since 2020.
According to Zhumangarin, the number of appeals about violations of consumer rights increases annually by 20%. Last year, nearly 50,000 appeals were received.
People are mostly dissatisfied with the quality of health and communication services, urban public transportation, and catering.
Last year, 44.8% of the total number of appeals sought and received legal counsel and support. Positive outcomes were achieved for 43.7% of cases, resulting in the return of 786 million tenge ($1.75 million) to consumers.
Zhumangarin noted that the observed trend in consumer complaints not only reflects a rise in consumer rights violations but also indicates an improvement in consumer culture, providing an accurate depiction of consumer sentiments and revealing the actual prevalence of substandard products and services in the market.
Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov said the primary causes of citizens’ complaints include low-quality goods, missing or inaccurate price labels, and delayed reimbursement of funds by online retailers, as e-commerce has been growing fast in Kazakhstan following the Covid-19 pandemic.