Govt to regulate pricing of goods at TIA

Kathmandu, August 16

In a bid to maintain uniformity in the price of different goods available at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and assure that consumers are charged a reasonable price, the government is preparing to regulate merchandise prices at the country's sole international airport.

Department of Commerce, Supply and Protection of Consumers (DoCSPC) - the market regulatory body - is gearing up to address the pricing issue of goods at TIA from policy level after repeated complaints of consumers being overcharged at airport.

“Shops at TIA have been overcharging customers in the name of higher rental charge. Irrespective of any reason, no one can charge customers above maximum retail price (MRP) of the product,” said Yogendra Gauchan, director general of DoCSPC, adding that a separate guideline will be developed to regulate the TIA market soon.

Though the price of products in airports is generally higher compared to the local market price, shops at TIA have been found to be charging customers unreasonably.

Consumers have been complaining that TIA shops have been charging double the price of various products available in the local market, like chocolates, noodles, water and other items.

Moreover, a few months ago, the government's inspection team had found TIA shops selling mineral water at Rs 50 per litre though its MRP is Rs 20. Similarly, the inspection had found TIA shops charging Rs 40 for a packet of noodles against its market price of Rs 20, and Rs 100 for a packet of peanuts against its market price of Rs 40.

Had the existing food-related laws been implemented effectively, no one could have charged customers more than 20 per cent of the cost price of goods. The Black Marketing Act, 1975 allows business firms to make a profit of up to 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, Gauchan said that prior to introducing guidelines to regulate the shops at TIA, the government will intensify monitoring at country's sole international airport. “We will soon inspect the shops at TIA and the pricing of goods there,” he added.

In neighbouring India, the government since last year has forbidden companies from selling the same product at different retail prices in airports, malls and cinemas, bringing relief to customers who had complained against higher MRP being charged at these places.