Efforts to control black marketing ineffective

By Laxman Kafle

Kathmandu, Sept. 14: Consumer rights activists have cast doubt over the effectiveness of the ongoing market monitoring of the government aimed at curbing black marketing.

“The present market monitoring will yield no significant results until the government takes action to bring the guilty to book,” said Bishnu Timilsina, Secretary of the Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights Nepal.

The recent market monitoring is no different from the previous ones as it is like a routine job taken by every new government.

Although the recent market monitoring teams have raided more than 407 business firms and shops in the Kathmandu Valley, the government is yet to take action against those found guilty. During the inspections, the team had sealed 46 firms on the spot.

Following special instruction by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda after he assumed office, the Ministry of Supplies launched a special market monitoring drive in the Valley from August 15 to September 2. As many as 12 separate teams were mobilised to control black marketing, sales and distribution of inedible foodstuffs, artificial price hike, qualities, adulteration and sale of date-expired goods.

Timilsina urged the government to punish those found engaging in wrongful business activities.

Stating that the earlier government too had conducted market monitoring frequently but were unable to take legal action against those involved in cartelling, he said that the present government should take action immediately against the wrong-doers as per the existing laws related to public health and consumer rights.

Nobody has the right to play with public health and cheat the people by selling sub-standard goods, he said.

“At present, the consumers want to see action against the cartels as they are openly cheating the consumers,” he said.

He expressed the suspicion that the government and other concerned bodies conduct market monitoring for financial benefits.

He warned that the Forum would not participate in market monitoring in the future if the government did not take action at the earliest.

Director General of the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumer Interests (DoSMPCI) Gokul Dhital claimed that the Department with the support of the local administration had taken action against 114 firms and institutions found guilty out of the 407 firms inspected.

We have not lodged a case against the guilty in the court so far, Dhital said, however, we are forwarding the process for action as per the given laws.

The Department has started taking clarifications from various firms like Bhatbhateni Food Production Private Limited, Siddhi Binayak Khadhyaa Stores, Best Cafeteria and Khaja Ghar, Dillibazar, Rameko Convenient Store Nayabazar, Balaju, Organic Kitchen Mart Private Limited, Nayabazar, Balaju and Mega Mart (big mart), Kalopool, which were found selling date-expired and adulterated items.

Out of total the 46 business firms that have been sealed, the

 Department has given permission to 22 business firms and institutions to continue their business after fulfilling necessary requirements.

Stating that the Department would take action against all cartels at any cost, he said that they would present the cartels before the courts as the responsibility of the Department is to lodge cases in the courts for taking action against the black marketeers.

He assured that the Department would continue with the market monitoring, making it a high priority along with the launch of various consumer awareness programmes throughout the year across the country.

“Consumers themselves should be aware about controlling black marketing activities. If the consumers become aware, the merchants cannot cheat them easily,” he said.

The Department of Drugs is handling 36 cases related to drugs, 22 cases by the Department of Health, 66 cases by the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, 43 cases by the Department of Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology.

Kamalesh Agrawal, general secretary at the Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), asked the government to amend the existing laws to make monitoring effective, and improve the market as the country had adopted an open market policy.

He blamed the teams of sealing the shops without any analysis because shop- owners had stored sub-standard and date-expired goods for dumping instead of selling.

Shashwat Dhakal, CEO of Big Mart, expressed his dissatisfaction over the present monitoring system of the government, citing that the system would discourage the traders from running their business instead of promoting trade in the country.

“The team sealed various shops including Big Mart after it found date-expired goods in the godowns. In our case, those goods which were stored in the godown were not meant for sale,” he said.

 “We are not against the monitoring. We are ready to cooperate with the government if it plans to monitor the market systematic based on international best practices,” said Dhakal.

He said that they had already arranged a separate place to store date-expired and sub-standard goods following the direction of the team.

The government has unlocked the seal to let us do our business, which is a positive step, Dhakal said.

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