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Government keen to bring BIs under commerce ministry in next two weeks



NEW DELHI: The government has revived the proposal to bring the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) under the commerce ministry from the consumer affairs department. Former minister late Ram Vilas Paswan had opposed the proposal by the commerce ministry highlighting that the BIS has regulatory powers and takes care of consumers interest after the Parliament passed the BIS Amendment Act in 2016 with powers to protect consumers.

Sources said a two-week deadline has been set to complete the task of bringing the agency under commerce ministry. A couple of meetings have been held since Union minister railways and commerce minister Piyush Goyal got additional charge of the food and consumer affairs ministry after Paswan passed away.

The earlier avataar of BIS, Indian Standards institute (ISI) was set up in September 1946 as per a resolution of the department of industrial and supplies. The BIS came into existence as an Act of Parliament in 1986 and it was put under the consumer affairs department.

The opinions are divided over the need to shift the standards making body to the commerce ministry. Some of the former BIS officials told TOI that the proposal was long overdue as the agency is primarily responsible for making standards for industrial goods.

“Across the globe agencies making standards for industrial goods are under the trade and commerce departments. Only in recent years we started setting standards for services. Bringing BIS under commerce will help us go a long way to make India Atma Nirbhar, which is the government’s focus,” said one of these former senior BIS officials.
Another official said this should not be seen as a turf issue.

However, others have a different take on this considering that the BIS not just sets standards but also enforces them and takes action against violations to protect the consumers interest.

A former consumer affairs ministry official said, “What we need to remember is that both the amendments in BIS Act and the Consumer Protection Act were in sync with each other and primarily aimed at protecting consumers. The current mechanism is enough to set high standards and make them mandatory under the Quality Control Order (QCO) regime that will help protect our domestic industries. But the government can take any decision on such matters,” he said.

The former bureaucrat also said taking BIS back to the commerce ministry may require the need to set up a new regulator to protect consumers interests. “Unfortunately, the consumer affairs ministry in our system has little authority unlike other countries despite our claims that the consumer is the king. In India, there are sector specific regulators. Only a new beginning has been made by setting up the Central Consumer Protection Authority with very limited power,” the official said.

Courtesy: TOI

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