Kathmandu, May 22 Various brands of liquor and cigarettes have been in short supply in the market for the past few weeks, as sellers have been hoarding these products in anticipation that the government will hike excise duty of these goods through the budget announcement, making them costlier. The government is set to endorse the budget for fiscal year 2019-20 on May 29, and generally the taxes on products that are injurious to health are hiked every year. Anticipating the tax hike in liquor and cigarettes, sellers have been hoarding them in a bid to make brisk business after the budget announcement. Even if these products are available, sellers have been charging extra amount arbitrarily, the consumers of liquor and cigarettes claim. “A stick of cigarette, which costs Rs 15 at normal times, currently costs around Rs 20 these days. Following weak market monitoring from the government, customers are being overcharged by both wholesalers and retailers,” said a cigarette consumer on condition of not being named. However, Ravi KC, senior vice-president of Surya Nepal — the major distributor of cigarettes in Nepal — refuted that there is short supply of cigarettes in Nepal. “The supply is normal and the cigarettes of our brand are available easily,” he claimed. Surya Nepal has a major stake in cigarette market of Nepal. The company produces and supplies cigarette brands like Surya (regular and lights), Shikhar, Bijuli, Khukuri, Surya Polarised and others. KC, who is also the president of Nepal Liquor Manufacturing Association, claimed that the supply of liquor is also normal. “If we find any seller hoarding cigarettes or liquor, we will take action against them.” Meanwhile, officials of Department of Commerce, Supply and Protection of Consumers (DoCSPC) — the government body responsible for carrying out market inspection — said that the department has clearly directed liquor and cigarette manufacturers not to hoard their products ahead of budget. “We are monitoring possible hoarding of cigarettes. In the case of liquor, alcoholic beverages clearly have price printed on the label itself and we will take legal action if sellers are found tampering with the label and charging high price for liquors after the budget announcement,” said Pawan Timalsina, spokesperson for the department.
Hoarding of cigarettes, liquor rampant ahead of fiscal budget
Published: 10:45 am May 23, 2019