Lax market monitoring laws causing chaos

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The new constitution has enshrined access to quality products as one of the rights of consumers

Mar 16, 2017-Nepal’s lethargic laws have allowed market monitoring authorities tasked with observing market anomalies in Nepal to continually perform poorly with no repercussions.

This was the main highlight that the stakeholders expressed at a programme organised to mark the World Consumer Rights Day on Wednesday. According to them, lack of such laws has resulted in the poor coordination amongst the government authorities with a wanton disregard for performance measures.

Supplies Minister Deepak Bohara said the government was now looking to integrate market monitoring functions that are spread across various government authorities. According to him, there are a total of 10 regulatory bodies including Ministry of Supplies, Department of Supply Management DoSM), Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology, Department of Drug Administration, District Administration Office, Department of Food Technology and Quality Control and Department of Health among others.

“Market inspection gets complicated when one authority attempts to establish the legal formalities to coordinate with concerned agencies to rectify their mistakes. As a result, consumers are the one that are affected the most when government efforts to control market anomalies fail,” said Bohara.

In 2012, the government enacted the Joint Market Monitoring Directive, with the aim of making market inspection more effective. However, the government’s move has failed to produce desired outcomes.

Subhash Chandra Thakuri, coordinator of a subcommittee of the parliamentary Committee on Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Protection, said lack of related laws has made the regulatory bodies irresponsive in the consumer related issues. “There is a need for making the regulatory bodies resourceful along with installing a separate mechanism to look after their work,” said Thakuri expressing the urgency to control under invoicing and cartel for effective market regulations.

The new constitution has enshrined access to quality products as one of the rights of consumers and has incorporated provisions to contain black-marketing and monopolies in the domestic market. The constitution also talks on penalising the wrongdoers and compensating the affected consumers. However, the provisions have not been properly implemented even after the constitution was promulgated for the last one and a half years. Dinesh Shrestha, vice-president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, stressed on the need for introducing the electronic system to track unscrupulous traders for market monitoring. “Making the customs offices well equipped with modern technologies could help control the import of substandard products,” Shrestha opined. Other issues that were raised at the programme were: establishing a welfare fund for affected consumers, introduction of a new Consumer Protection Act, installing of separate consumer monitors at local authorities and fixing of maximum retail price at the supply source.   

Published: 16-03-2017 09:27

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