Action taken against six offending firms
May 17, 2017-The Ministry of Supplies started legal proceedings against only six offending firms in the first nine months of the fiscal year even though a much larger number were found to be involved in misconduct.
Government agencies often do not take action against errant traders citing lack of relevant laws and adequate manpower.
The ministry had checked 4,620 business outlets as of the third quarter in coordination with the Department of Supplies Management and District Administration Offices. Among the firms investigated, 2,249 are located in the Kathmandu Valley and 2,371 elsewhere in the country. The investigation revealed that 1,151 firms had not renewed their licences and 676 firms did not have permanent account numbers or value added tax registration. According to the ministry, a large number of firms have been avoiding paying tax. However, government agencies have not been able to take action against them besides issuing warnings.
Surya Prasad Shrestha, spokesperson for the ministry, said government agencies had not been taking action due to lack of competent manpower.
“In addition, lengthy legal procedures that require them to consult with government advocates mean that offenders have adequate time to hide their misdoings,” he said. “We had asked for legal advice to take action against 13 firms involved in malpractices.” Meanwhile, a large number of businesses dealing in food products had poor hygiene and lacked registration papers. According to the ministry, it instructed 583 firms to improve food hygiene in the production process. Likewise, 1,220 firms were found selling products beyond their expiry dates and 40 firms did not possess a licence.
The Consumer Protection Act 1998 requires products to have proper labeling showing details of the ingredients, batch number, date of manufacture and other information. Offenders face a fine of up to Rs30,000 and a two-year jail term.
Prem Lal Maharjan, chairman of the National Consumers Forum, said the government’s market monitoring was just for showing off. “Lack of a strong will to enforce the law is allowing wrongdoers to escape,” he said.
Citing inadequate laws, the ministry has started amending the existing act. According to ministry officials, the work is in the final stages. “We have received the final draft from the Law Ministry, however, the process has been delayed due to local elections,” a high ranking ministry official said.
Published: 17-05-2017 09:38