Kathmandu, March 6
The government is preparing to scrap the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest (DoSMPCI) and transfer its entire role to the local governments.
As the Constitution has envisioned that issues regarding market management and consumers will be regulated by the local governments, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) has been holding discussions to dissolve the DoSMPCI soon.
The government’s plan to dissolve DoSMPCI comes at a time when the department has been facing criticism for ineffective market monitoring and its inability to address various consumer-related issues.
DoSMPCI is the authorised government body to regulate the supply of goods in the domestic market, control malpractices and protect the right of consumers.
“The Constitution has clearly authorised local governments to regulate the local markets. As the local governments have already started functioning, the role of DoSMPCI will be reduced gradually,” said Mukunda Prasad Paudel, joint secretary at MoICS, adding that the local governments (municipalities and rural municipalities) will regulate their markets while MoICS will take necessary policy-level decisions under the new federal system of governance.
According to him, the provincial government will play the market regulatory role in case the local government faces any difficulties while managing the supply side of goods and monitoring larger businesses.
However, Paudel said that the Market Monitoring Unit at the MoICS has to be strengthened and made more effective before transferring the market management and inspection roles to the local governments and dissolving the DoSMPCI.
In case the government decides to dissolve DoSMPCI, Poudel informed that all the staffers at the department will be transferred to other state bodies like Department of Commerce (DoC) and Department of Industry (DoI), among others.
Meanwhile, Kumar Prasad Dahal, director general at DoSMPCI, said that the government should first come up with proper plans to regulate the market before dissolving DoSMPCI. “Abruptly scrapping DoSMPCI can leave a negative impact on the market,” said Dahal.
Meanwhile, consumer rights activists have expressed optimism that market inspection from the local levels will be more effective. “However, local governments should carry result-oriented market monitoring unlike that being done from the central level. Those leading the local governments should give top priority to consumer-related issues and try to eradicate anti-consumer activities from the grassroots level,” said MadhavTimalsina, president of Consumers’ Right Investigation Forum.
A version of this article appears in print on March 07, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.