The government was supposed to publish the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of 15 essential commodities in Nepal Gazette Tuesday and the MRP violators would have come under the ambit of the Black Marketing Act, but it has failed to do so. It is essential to publish the price list to implement the programme. In any case, the MRP debate is escalating with some for it and some against. Critics argue that the government’s MRP program promotes carteling and is unbecoming of an open or mixed economy. Under the circumstances, it is questionable as to whether MRP would ensure a fair price of the essential commodities. In fact, critics argue that the MRP would actually serve the interests of the unscrupulous traders by permitting them to keep the price of the essentials high. Having the MRP would only make it easier to raise the prices unnaturally. There is general agreement to the fact that the implementation aspect of the MRP is going to be difficult. The authorities responsible for enforcing the MRP should be working overtime and be closely monitoring the market. They should also have the authority to penalize the offenders on the spot for effectiveness.
What we know is that much of the price rise is due to non-economic factors. The price of essential commodities has risen because of bandhs and strikes that have had a telling effect on the production of essential goods and in their transportation. The price rise can be attributed to them as well as the prevailing political scenario which is not favourable for economic growth, and on the other hand which is pushing up the prices of the essentials which the impoverished people of the country are finding hard to bear. The MRP was supposed to relieve the burden of the consumers, particularly now that the festive seasons are fast approaching. Instead, the declaration of the MRP seems to have backfired. So it is not strange for the consumer activists to term the move as being a mere publicity stunt. The move is also accused of being against the open market operations, and furthermore it is also accused of being based on false price now that the present economic model of the country has changed.
However, there has been a demand for the MRP since long for the consumers have felt that they had been cheated. It was even imposed six times during the Panchayat period which had a regressive regime. However, nothing of that sort has happened since 1982. The world is now moving towards an open economy and the government’s marketing controlling policy should be seen in this light. If anything, the MRP would allow unscrupulous traders to profit unfairly for the prices put in the MRP appears to be on the high side benefiting the traders and allowing for profiteering. Since the maximum retail price has yet to be published in the Gazette and the slow process is taking place in this regard, it appears that even the government is not enthusiastic about it and it is taking its time to enforce the MRP. However, things as they are, it is high time the government came up with some innovative schemes that would really provide relief to the consumers reeling from unfair market price hike.
Ward off infection
That the Paropakar Maternity Hospital did not provide services for the third day in a row is indeed a matter of serious concern. The hospital was closed as lab tests found infections in the operation theatres and the post operation wards, among other places. Several patients became seriously ill from the infections which required the maternity hospital to close its services and refer the patients to other hospitals. Its services are provided cheaply in the hospital and most of the patients who are impoverished are hard put to afford the charges of other hospitals, particularly those of the expensive private hospitals. This has left them in a lurch. How the operation theatres and other departments were infected should be thoroughly investigated. The authorities were supposed to sterilize the operation theatres every three months. Apparently, this had not been done properly.
The hospital should do all it can to prevent dangerous infections by sterilizing their equipment. Meanwhile, the hospital management should be held accountable for this fiasco and everything possible should be done to see that such incidents are not repeated in the future.