Durbarmarg stores pull down shutters in protest

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 8, 2017-

Shopkeepers on Durbarmarg pulled down their shutters on Thursday in protest after a government market monitoring team sealed a number of branded stores accusing them of charging exorbitant prices. The sellers said their outlets would remain closed indefinitely.

On Monday and Wednesday, the market monitoring team sealed nine branded stores including Nike, Reebok, Puma, Bentley and Levis for overcharging customers. Some of the products had a markup of as high as 2,300 percent, officials of the Department of Supply Management said.

The action against high-end stores on Kathmandu’s fanciest shopping street sent Twitter and Facebook abuzz with posts claiming that brands like Nike and Adidas had no presence in Nepal. These global companies, however, have not officially confirmed the claims. 

Traders accused authorities of conducting market inspections to discourage them when festival shopping was increasing with the approach of Dashain and Tihar. 

They organized a press meet to announce an indefinite closure if the government did not stop the market monitoring drive. When asked if they have obtained rights to sell products as authorized dealers in Nepal, they declined to comment.

Gopal Kakshapati, president of the Durbarmarg Development Board, said shops would remain closed until the authorities removed the seals they put on the stores they had raided.

“Although traders have been conducting business by adhering to the law, the department took action without providing the merchants any chance to give an explanation,” Kakshapati said. 

The department has given the traders a three-day deadline ending Friday to come up with a clarification. 

As per the traders, they were compelled to launch a protest after the surprise 

market inspection by the department. 

“Department officials just checked the import prices stated on the customs self-declaration forms and accused the traders of overcharging customers,” said Kakshapati, adding that they did not consider costs such as shop rental, transportation charges and other overheads. 

Dinesh Shrestha, former vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, urged the traders to find a middle path solution and not close their businesses. “However, those who sell products without issuing invoices and evade customs duty should face government action,” Shrestha said.  

According to traders, there are 160 stores on Durbarmarg, and half of them deal in outfits and accessories.

Published: 08-09-2017 08:31

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