MoST to ensure mandatory ‘Manufacturing and Expiry Dates’ on cement bags

Meeting held between CCP team and science ministry incharge to deliberate the proposal

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Science and Technology has decided to send the Competition Commission of Pakistan’s (CCP) proposal about the revision of national cement standards to the PSQCA for deliberation in the Technical Committee. The proposal required the PSQCA, an attached department of the MoST, to ensure the disclosure of “manufacturing/expiry dates” on cement bags.

As per details a CCP team, led by Member Office of Fair Trade (OFT) Saeed Ahmad Nawaz, held a follow-up meeting with Ali Tahir, Additional Secretary (In-charge) of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), to discuss the proposal to amend the National Cement Standards, making the ‘manufacturing/packaging and expiry/best before’ dates on cement bags mandatory. The proposal was sent through a Policy Note issued on 7 March 2024 to MoST and the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA).

During the meeting, Member CCP emphasized the importance of these disclosures due to cement’s hygroscopic nature, noting that non-disclosure violates Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010. He highlighted the current practice where manufacturers disclose manufacturing/packaging and expiry/best before dates individually on bags and collectively on bales for export but omit them for local products. He stressed the need for a collaborative control mechanism involving all stakeholders.

The Ministry pledged full assistance to the CCP in protecting consumer interests as mandated in Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010. It was decided in the meeting that the matter will be referred to PSQCA for deliberations in the Technical Committee meeting, which is scheduled on 7 May 2024. 

The participants of the meeting also agreed with Member CCP’s proposal of convening a meeting with stakeholders, including the cement manufacturers association, to discuss the issue and inform them about potential enforcement actions. The meeting was also attended by senior officials from CCP, the MoST and the PSQCA.

Currently, all types of cement in Pakistan adhere to packaging standards set by the PSQCA. The introduction of mandatory manufacturing and expiry date disclosures is a small step to empower consumers and foster true competition among brands.

A note by CCP, set on April 16th emphasized the need to align Pakistan’s standards with international labeling practices to ensure consistency and transparency in the domestic market. It also aims to address the disparity between domestic and export labeling requirements, thereby safeguarding the interests of local consumers.

The CCP in its note, condemned the omission of material information on cement packaging as deceptive marketing and advocated for the mandatory printing of expiry dates to protect consumer interests and promote fair competition within the industry. 

An advisory was sent to the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) and its members, urging compliance with the new labeling requirements to prioritize consumer safety and satisfaction. 

Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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