DOHA: Some members of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) have called for stricter monitoring of eateries and beauty parlours especially, saying that rising number of violations of health and safety rules by these facilities show that the government’s inspection tools and techniques have become outdated.
The public representative body has demanded that stricter punishments be specified for violators to curb irregularities since such offences could seriously threaten people’s health and safety.
The current law stipulates fines and closure of a violating outlet for a maximum two months, which some councillors say is too inadequate to deter a violator.
Given the seriousness of the crime, owners of these facilities should be jailed, civic representatives said. They pointed out that most offences are related to food and cosmetics which are commonly used and have a direct bearing on public health.
They argued that sheer increase in the number of violations indicates that inspection tools and techniques used by authorities are outdated. They also called for advanced training for inspectors and the use of more advanced technology. They reiterated calls to give more power to the Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce and make it an autonomous authority.
Inspectors from the department and the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning recently detected several violations such as sale of expired and damaged food products and tampering with expiry dates.
“Tampering with expiry dates should be considered a serious crime. Fines and closure of outlets are not sufficient to deter people from committing such crimes. There should be stricter punishments, include jail,” a local Arabic daily quoted Mohammed Ali Azba, CMC member representing Maider South, as saying.
He said the names of the erring outlets should be published in newspapers.
Mubarak Fresh, another CMC member, said inspectors should be adequately trained to detect substandard and counterfeit products. “Why such violations are repeating every week and every month? Can they detect them properly,” he wondered.
He also called for intensified monitoring at ports of entry to prevent the entry of such products to the country.
“The current punishments are not enough. There should be stricter monitoring. The punishment should include withdrawal of the licence,” said CMC member Mohammed Al Hajri. He said CMC had discussed the issue earlier and called for stricter penalties and formation of consumer protection associations.