Govt yet to decide on fair price shops for festive season
Kathmandu, October 3
Though the festive season is fast approaching, the government has yet to decide on operating fair price shops to safeguard consumers from possible ill practices in the market during Dashain festival.
Government-owned public enterprises — Salt Trading Corporation and National Trading Ltd — have said they have not received any instructions from their parent ministry, Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS), regarding operation of fair price shops during the festive season.
MoCS officials have said that they have held discussions with Salt Trading Corporation and National Trading Ltd regarding the operation of fair price shops during the Dashain festival. However, the chiefs of the concerned public enterprises have stated that they will not be able to operate the fair price shops this year until the government compensates for the additional expenses that were incurred last year.
The government needs to release Rs 60 million to Salt Trading Corporation and Rs 15 million to National Trading Ltd to compensate for the additional expenses incurred in operating fair price shops last year.
Shiva Prasad Tripathi, under secretary of the MoCS, has informed that the ministry has already written to the Ministry of Finance to release the fund to compensate the additional expenses incurred during the operation of the fair price shops last fiscal.
However, the finance ministry has not earmarked any budget under this heading and it needs the Cabinet’s approval to release the fund. The Ministry of Finance has yet to send the proposal to the Cabinet, as per officials.
The fair price shops have been responsible for selling essential commodities like rice, sugar, salt and edible oil and have proven to be effective tools over the years to intervene in the market.
The government-run fair price shops have played a major role in controlling the price of essential commodities during the festive season due to the fact that retailers are not able to hike the price because the fair price shops sell goods at a cheaper rate as compared to the market price.
Though the decision to operate fair price shops is yet to be taken, the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies has, however, directed Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) to bring 2,500 to 3,000 he-goats to Kathmandu for the Dashain festival. The government has taken this initiative to intervene in the market price of he-goats, said Pawan Karki, acting general manager of NFC.
MoCS officials have said that they are planning to operate more fair price shops in earthquake affected areas if the finance ministry agrees to release the fund to compensate the additional expenses of last year. The government will also invite the private sector to place stalls at the fair price shops operated by Salt Trading and National Trading so that the quake-hit people can get relief, according to the MoCS officials.