Print Edition - 2016-04-09 | MONEY
Govt ‘closely’ monitoring market
Apr 9, 2016-
Government officials said Friday they were closely watching the market to prevent price hikes and artificial shortages of daily essentials like edibles, sugar, medicines and cooking gas as unethical business practices had made life difficult for the general public.
People still can’t get cooking gas easily even though the embargo ended weeks ago. Meanwhile, prices of edible oil and pulses have soared in recent months.
The government recently took action against a number of pharmaceutical companies for overcharging customers. They had set prices higher than the maximum retail price (MRP).
“Only traders dealing in medicinal products and those involved in price hikes, adulteration and artificial shortages have been booked on black marketeering charges,” said Ram Krishna Subedi, chief district officer of Kathmandu district.
Unusual price hikes, rampant adulteration, hoarding and cartels have become common occurrences in the domestic market due to the confusion and shortages following the Indian trade embargo.
Home Secretary Narayan Gopal Malego urged traders to cooperate with the government to control the malpractices spreading in the market. According to him, closer scrutiny by the government will allow honest traders to conduct their business without problems.
Speaking at an interaction entitled Challenges of Prevailing Black Marketeering Act and Timely Amendment organised by the Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), Malego said the government would assist traders if they maintained good trading practices.
Traders blamed Black Marketeering and Some Other Social Offenses and Punishment Act 1975 as being impractical. They said the existing law had created fear among traders to carry on their business.
NCC President Rajesh Kaji Shrestha said the government needed to remove the provision in the existing act which says that earning a profit of more than 20 percent will be considered as black marketeering. “Based on this provision, the police have been arresting even honest traders on the charge of black marketeering,” he said.
Traders said that they had to bear high overhead costs which forced them to raise the mark-up. “Traders may set a profit margin of more than the government limit of 20 percent because of reasons like clearance sale, high freight charges and supply constraints which they faced during the Indian trade embargo,” said Kamalesh Agrawal, general secretary at the NCC.
Trader Krishna Man Shrestha said they were forced to set the margin above the fixed threshold also because of the high interest rates charged by banks.
Lilendra Prasad Pradhan, president of the Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association, said that lack of coordination between the Home and Supply ministries and the police administration had led to suffering for merchants.
Pabitra Man Bajracharya, president of the Nepal Retailers’ Association, accused the government of harassing small traders in the name of market monitoring. Pointing to Salt Trading Corporation as an example of a state-owned enterprise charging high prices for sugar, Bajracharya blamed the government for promoting black marketeering.
Published: 09-04-2016 09:01