Lawmakers criticize govt’s poor market monitoring

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Jun 18, 2015-

Lawmakers on Thursday criticized the government’s poor market monitoring mechanism that has forced consumers to pay above-market prices for goods and services, particularly in rural areas.

They said that people in earthquake-affected districts had not received quality goods and services despite abundant supplies and high prices.

The parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee said that the government had not been taking the House panel’s directive seriously even though it had been constantly urging it to ensure better goods and services.  

“The absence of market monitoring in rural areas has led to suffering for the people,” said Lawmaker Krishna Prasad Paudel. “Poor people have been charged high prices for poor quality relief materials.” The Department of Commerce and Supply Management, however, informed the lawmakers that they had increased market inspections to check possible cartelling by sellers of essentials good. Since the April 25 earthquake, prices of essential commodities including pulses and fruits have surged in the local market.

Prices of pulses had jumped Rs40-50 per kg within a few days. However, traders blamed the increase on international trends, a fall in imports and appreciation of the US dollar against the Nepali rupee.

Shambhu Koirala, director of the department, said they had been keeping a close watch on importers, wholesalers and retailers of pulses.

Although traders have blamed international trends, Koirala said they suspected a possible cartel for price hikes. The monitoring team of the department has also seized invoices from traders to check for mismatches between purchase and sale prices.

Following the rise in market prices, the government had even planned to supply goods through state-owned Salt Trading Corporation to regulate supplies and prices. But the public enterprise has been reluctant to do so.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce and Supply has directed the department to conduct a detailed study of the rise in prices of pulses. “As the explanation provided by traders is not satisfactory to justify the fluctuation in prices, the ministry has directed it to examine the issue,” said Secretary Naindra Prasad Upadhyaya of the Supply Ministry.

Similarly, the department said that fruit prices had jumped in recent days. However, it has been blamed on a disruption in the supply chain as Araniko Highway has been cut off due to landslides triggered by the earthquake.

Sunil Bahadur Thapa of the Commerce Ministry said that delays in amending obsolete laws and regulations and lack of logistic support had hindered effective monitoring. “Although the government has moved to introduce stringent laws, the plan has been held up by the earthquake.”

NFC to deposit money soon

KATHMANDU: Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) has said that it will soon deposit the proceeds from the sale of rice gifted by Japan into the government’s account. The corporation has been accused of misusing the money as it had not been deposited within the stipulated time. The state-owned corporation explained that the money had not been deposited as it did not have the government’s bank account number. Shiva Hari Shrestha, general manager of the corporation, said they were in the process of receiving a new account number from the Office of the Auditor General. “As the Finance Ministry has cancelled the old account number, we could not deposit the money on time,” he said. Shrestha said that a board meeting of the corporation on Wednesday decided to deposit Rs150 million immediately after obtaining the account details. He added that they had so far collected Rs477.7 million after selling rice worth Rs716 million. (PR)

Published: 19-06-2015 08:11

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