Traders under scrutiny fail to report to police

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 28, 2017-

The owners of branded apparel stores on Durbar Marg who have been accused of overcharging customers have not reported to the Metropolitan Police Range, Teku despite repeated reminders.

Police authorities suspect that the traders who were previously interrogated have gone into hiding. Officials said that a second round of action would be initiated against them.

On September 4, Supplies Minister Shiva Prasad Mandal led a market monitoring team and raided nine stores on Durbar Marg to check for possible misconduct. They include stores selling products from international brands like Nike, Reebok, Puma, Bentley and Levis, among others.

The squad sealed the nine stores on the swanky shopping street on the charge of putting excessive markups. Officials said they were charging prices that were 2,300 percent higher than the cost price of the goods.

Two days later, officials from the Department of Supplies Management (DoSM) sealed two other clothing stores on New Road on a similar charge.

The department has handed over the cases to the Metropolitan Police Range and recommended that action be taken against the owners on black marketing charges. The police launched an investigation on October 7.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Bel Bahadur Pandey, the investigation officer, said the concerned traders might have fled. “Store attendants said they had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the proprietors,” Pandey said. 

He added said that the police had also registered the case under the Black Marketing and Some Other Social Offences and Punishment Act. “We will start tapping their telephones and bring them under the legal framework regardless of where they may be hiding.”

Even though the police have initiated action against the shop owners, stores are continuing to charge high prices, officials said.

Last week, a DoSM market monitoring team booked another four shops on Durbar Marg including Sports Plaza, Bina Fashion House and Option Store for overcharging. These stores sell products from brands like Zodiac, Zara, New Balance and Ray Ban.

The merchants have claimed that the wide difference between the cost and selling price of branded products is because of under-invoicing and high overheads.

Customs and tax authorities have not launched any investigation. The lax attitude of officials has emboldened traders to continue overcharging customers, consumer rights activists said.

Published: 28-10-2017 09:05

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