Market anomalies still rampant despite hefty fines

- RAJESH KHANAL, Kathmandu

Mar 25, 2019-

The government’s effort to check market anomalies by imposing cash penalty against wrongdoers is proving ineffective, as many shopkeepers are still being found ignoring government rules.

Failing to maintain price lists, absence of purchase bills and selling products without any labelling are some of the underlying problems still commonly found in retail businesses.

Although the Department of Commerce, Supply and Protection of Consumers jostled into action a few months back and slapped cash penalties against unscrupulous traders, consumers have failed to get respite.

Just last week, the department fined up to Rs50,000 against the firms engaged in business malpractices. The department slapped a Rs50,000 fine against New Balaji Bastralaya in Kathmandu Metropolitan City-2.

The shop was charged for not keeping the price lists at its store. Another shop Bhatbhateni Fashion Centre, operating in the same location, was fined Rs20,000, as the shop did not have purchase invoice.

Similarly, the regulatory body fined Shivashakti Fabrics Firm in Kathmandu Metropolitan City-4 Rs20,000 for failing to show the purchase bill to the market monitoring team deployed by the department.

The Consumer Protection Act that was introduced in September prohibits traders from cheating consumers by engaging in adulteration, giving short measure or over-charging.

As per the law, the government authority can impose cash penalty of Rs5,000-300,000 on the spot.

If traders do not have the purchase bill, the market inspection team can fine them Rs5,000-20,000.

In situations where the stores do not cooperate with the officials during an inspection, such firms will be slapped with Rs20,000-30,000 in fines. Similarly, the authority can slap a Rs200,000-300,000 fine on shops which tamper the measuring devices to cheat consumers.

In the first eight months of the current fiscal year, the department fined Rs300,000—the largest of all—against Suvakamana Water. Similarly, Himalayan Techno Gears was charged Rs250,000. Bhadrakali Oil Store, Karbi Apparels, City Centre and Koseli Pustakari Udyog were fined 200,000 each.  

Of the 633 business outlets cross-checked by the department in the first four months (during September to January) after the enactment of the improved consumer act, the department issued cash penalties against 100 shopkeepers involved in cheating consumers. It has collected a total of Rs2.5 million in fines.

Madhav Timilsina, president of Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, blamed the government apathy towards the related regulation of Consumer Protection Act for the slow progress in the checking the anomalies ongoing in the market.

“The scrupulous traders do not hesitate from paying large amounts of money in cash penalty after earning hefty profits through price hikes,” Timilsina said.

“If the regulation is in place, it could set up a mechanism to coordinate among the government authorities for filing cases to bring such traders behind bars, which could help in controlling the malpractices ongoing in the market,” Timilsina added.

Published: 25-03-2019 09:29

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