HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The government failed to publish maximum retail price (MRP) in Nepal Gazette (Rajpatra) today, as it has promised.
Ministry of Commerce and Supply Management has promised to publish it today
in the Gazette that could ensure the implementation of the MRP from today.
“There has been not any preparation to publish it in the Nepal Gazette ,” said secretary of the Ministry of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs Bhesh Raj Sharma. “No file has reached the ministry related to maximum retail price,” he added.
According to the process, concerned ministry should forward the file to Ministry of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs to publish notice in the Gazette.
According to the Clause 1 of Essential Commodities Control (Authorisation) Act 1961, the government decision on maximum retail price becomes effective only after the publication in Nepal Gazette.
Earlier governments had published MRP in the gazette six times during Panchayat period — between 1964 and 1971. But the law has not been in use since 1982. The UCPN-Maoist led government had set maximum retail price of 15 commodities on Thursday based on Panchayati period law, when the government used to have control over the market.
The action has immediately drawn criticism from private sector — Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry — and consumer groups as it was ‘against open market operations’ and ‘based on false price’, due to the changed economic model of the country currently.
Similarly, economists have also claimed that it would be difficult to be implemented and the government is promoting cartel officially through the maximum retail price.
Now, their doubt seems to be turning to reality. “The government is cheating consumers with false promises,” said general secretary of Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights-Nepal Jyoti Baniya, commenting on the government commitment to MRP. “We believe that it is only a publicity propaganda,” he said, adding that consumer groups believed that the MPR will be published in the gazette as it was already attested by the caretaker Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai.
Dr Bhattarai had attested MRP on Friday and directed to publish it in the Nepal Gazette.
However, line ministry — Ministry of Commerce and Supply — said that following technical problems, the MRP could not be published today. “It will be published soon,” a senior officer at the ministry said.
Meanhwile, the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) has also shown serious concern over the government’s market controlling policy. “At a time, when the world is moving towards the open economy, the government is backtracking,” it said, adding that the price hike in the domestic market depends on more non-economic factors like cartel of transportation and the government, despite improving the supply system, is trying to control the market that will fuel the informal economy.
Two sides of the law
• The government can set maximum retail price (MRP), according to the Essential Commodities Control (Authorization) Act 1961. Its Clause 3, sub-clause 2(b) states “the government can regulate or control storage, distribution, trade or consumption of any essential commodity on issuing a licence or by using any other method’. However, the MRP decision come into enforcement once the government publish ‘Notified order’ under Clause 2 (b) in the Nepal Gazette.
• Voilation of MRP is punished under Black-marketing and Some Other Social Offenses and Punishment Act 1975. Clause 8 of the law states, “black marketers can be fined up to Rs 25,000 or receive a prison sentence of up to five years. If there is a claim for compensation, the claimed amount is added to the fine if it is more than Rs 25,000.”