Activists rue lax market monitoring

Kathmandu, March 15

The government has been criticised for doing a shoddy job at market monitoring, which has been creating a ground for artificial shortage of daily essentials, traders charging exorbitant price, and sales of inferior goods and services in the market.

During the celebration of World Consumer Rights Day today, consumer rights activists have said that the disorder witnessed after the border blockade has been continuing still due to inefficiency of the monitoring body in bringing back order to the market.

"It is not that we don't have enough laws to regulate the market and control ill-practices … what we sorely lack is its implementation," said Jyoti Baniya, president of Nepal Consumers Welfare Protection Forum.

"In fact, consumers' right to quality goods and services has been ensured in the constitution," he added.

He further alleged political leaderships of curtailing the power of the Department of Supply Management and Consumer Protection (DoSMCP) to fulfil their vested interests due to their inclination towards various business houses.

He highlighted the need to amend the Consumer Protection Act, 1998 as per the spirit of the new constitution and stressed on the need for early enactment of Consumer Court Bill so that settlement of anti-consumer related cases could be expedited.

Similarly, Madhav Timalsina, president of Consumer Right Investigation Forum, said that encouraging competition is the only instrument in bringing order to the market.

"But now we can see syndicates and cartels in every sector, which have distorted the market and hurt consumers' rights to consume quality services and goods at competitive rate," he said, adding, "To implement the laws dealing with consumer rights properly, we need to eliminate syndicates and cartels."

Likewise, the market monitoring body has been urged to oversee the entire production and distribution process to ensure that quality goods and services reach the market.

Prem Lal Maharjan, president of National Consumer Forum, highlighted the need for a well-equipped and effective market monitoring body.

"The government has split the ministry and departments to deliver better services to the public, but the monitoring body has not been able to function effectively due to lack of human and other required resources."

This year's Consumer Rights Day was observed with the slogan 'Antibiotics off the Menu'.

In this regard, consumer rights activists urged the government to conduct proper inspection of pesticide residue in vegetables, fruits and discourage use of antibiotics in animal feed to increase meat production.

The Department of Supply Management and Consumer Protection  is the authorised market monitoring body of the government. At the central level, the department itself mobilises the market monitoring teams comprising officials from the District Administrative Office, security personnel, consumer rights activists and representatives from specialised agencies like Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, and Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology, among others, as per the need.

At district level, the chief district officer is authorised to conduct market monitoring from its own capacity.

Growth promoters banned

KATHMANDU: The Department of Livestock Production has informed that it has banned the import of growth promoters (antibiotics) that are used in animal feed. Considering the concerns related to public health, the department will allow only the import of certain molecules that do not affect people’s health while consuming meat and milk. Keshab Prasad Premy, director general of the department, said that growth promoters were imported rampantly in the country for use in animal feed in a bid to increase meat and milk production."Neighbouring India and many other countries have already banned the use of such antibiotics," Premy said. Due to concerns related to public health, the Consumers International has coined the slogan 'Antibiotics off the Menu' for World Consumer Rights Day 2016. The department has been preparing guidelines to manage the import of such growth promoters. The guideline, which is in offing, will ban import of antibiotics that have adverse effects on human health.

MoS forms two study panels

KATHMANDU: In the wake of the prolonged fuel crisis in the country, Minister for Supplies Ganesh Man Pun, on Tuesday, formed two separate committees to study ways to ensure effective supply and distribution of petroleum products and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Both the panels have been directed to submit their reports within a month. The committee related to effective supply and distribution of petroleum products is led by the planning division chief of the ministry and comprises the supply division chief of Nepal Oil Corporation, representatives from Nepal Petroleum Dealers National Association, representatives from Federation of the Nepal Petroleum Transport Entrepreneurs and President of National Consumer Forum Prem Lal Maharjan. The supply, market monitoring and regulation division chief of the ministry is the member secretary. Similarly, another panel for effective supply and distribution of LPG is led by joint secretary of the supply management division of the ministry and comprises a representative from among various consumer rights activist forums, LPG division chief of NOC, representatives from LP Gas Industry Association and representatives from Gas Dealers Federation Nepal. Public enterprise division chief of the ministry is member secretary in the committee.