Government girds up to curb price hike

KATHMANDU:The government has just woken up to the reality of skyrocketing prices of essential goods. In a bid to protect consumers from the price spiral, the Department of Commerce (DoC) has started a drive — making it mandatory for traders to display the price-list (wholesale and retail) of essential goods within three days.

The DoC is initiating this drive after a study commissioned by the department pointed out that there are blackmarketing forces working behind the scenes. “We are worried that the price mechanism — demand and supply — is not balanced in the market,” said Dr Khil Nath Bastakoti, director. The price of rice and pulses in Kathmandu does not resemble that in areas bordering India, he added.

There is a large gap in the price of rice and pulse in Kathmandu and that in towns bordering India, such as Biratnagar, Birgunj and Dhangadhi. For example, one kg Mansuli rice sold for Rs 44 in Kathmandu on Thursday whereas an equal quantity of the same rice sold in Biratnagar for Rs 30, in Birgunj for Rs 27 and in Dhangadhi for Rs 38. Likewise, one kg Rahar pulse priced Rs 140 in Kathmandu on Thursday and Rs 95, Rs 92 and Rs 100 in Biratnagar, Birgunj and Dhangadhi, respectively.

‘We cannot deny the machinations of behind-the-scenes forces because prices are rising artificially,” said Bastakoti. DoC is planning to identify the real culprits through price-list

monitoring. It is the beginning, and DoC will not hesitate to catch blackmarketeers, he added. DoC will begin the marketing monitoring from Monday.

According to Bastakoti, the first and foremost aim of price-list in shops is to support consumer in finding cheap shops in the area. “There are different prices of same goods in the market and DoC wants to end such differences,” he said. A sample survey conducted by The Himalayan Times in Bagbazar area on Friday found that a kg of Rahar pulse sold between Rs 130 at the lowest and Rs 145 at the highest.

However, consumer rights groups are not satisfied with DoC’s move. Price-list cannot solve the problem, said Netra Dhital, secretary of Consumer Rights Protection Forum (CRPF). “We want market intervention from today,” he said, “Blackmarketeers must be brought to book.” DoC has called a meeting of businessmen, rights groups and government officials on Sunday to decide the intervention strategy.

The Consumer Protection Act 1998 Section 12 has made legal provisions for price-list with punishment of two years imprisonment and/or fine not exceeding Rs 200,000 for those who violate the order.

Essential goods

KATHMANDU:The price list has 29 essential goods.

• Rice (Mota and Mansuli)

• Maize

• Beaten rice (chiura)

• Wheat (flour and maida)

• Pulses (Rahar and


• Salt

• Sugar

• Tea

• Edible oil (mustard and soybean)

• Ghee (including

vegetable ghee)

• Milk

• Vegetable (potato, onion and tomato)

• Meat (all kinds of meats and fish)

• Fruits (sweet lime,

banana and apple)

• Spices (chilly, garlic, cumin seed,


• Medicine

• Etc.

Source: Black Marketing and Certain Other Social

Offences Act 1978, Section 3 (C)