Nepal | June 07, 2020

Validity of daily market monitoring raises brows

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, September 16

The validity of daily market monitoring led by the Department of Commerce and Supply Management (DoCSM) has started to raise eyebrows, as the department has been conducting such activities without fulfilling the requirement of market monitoring team as provisioned by the law.

The law has defined the role of DoCSM as the coordinator in market monitoring. As per the Consumer Rights Protection Regulations, 1999, DoCSM needs to include representatives of the concerned regulatory body or government agency in the team when conducting market monitoring.

However, DoCSM has been conducting market monitoring with teams comprising of its own officials, representatives of non-governmental organisations working on protection of consumer rights and security persons only.

In its defence, Hari Narayan Belbase, director of DoCSM, says that the department has been coordinating with the concerned regulatory body and government agencies for joint market monitoring once every fortnight or in a month, and that it is not possible to do the same for daily market monitoring.

Daily market monitoring has been conducted by DoCSM teams with support of security personnel, as per Belbase.

Yet, the regulation has clearly stated that the monitoring team should comprise representatives of Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology; or the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control; or District Administration Office; or Department of Drug Administration; or Department of Agriculture; or Department of Livestock Services; or Department of Transportation; or Department of Industry; or Department of Cottage and Small Industries; or Department of Education — depending on the sector being monitored. Nepal Police and representatives of non-governmental organisations working for protection of consumer rights also have to be present.

As per the rule, DoCSM should coordinate with the concerned regulatory body or government agency in market monitoring of the specific sector, like, education, transport, drugs and livestock, among others. Representatives from the District Administration Office, security personnel, DoCSM officials and representatives of the concerned field should be present mandatorily during market monitoring, as per the law.

What is of concern is that most of the market monitoring activities are focused on market price of goods, services and quality. However, DoCSM hardly incorporates representatives from Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology in the team, alleges Jyoti Baniya, president of Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights. “Sectors like transport, education, drugs and livestock are excluded from regular monitoring,” he adds.

These seem to be genuine apprehensions since DoCSM officials may not necessarily be aware of all the factors that need to be considered to deem whether a product or service meets the minimum standard set for it.

A senior official at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) has also shown dissatisfaction on the market monitoring activities of DoCSM. “Market monitoring has not been conducted in an effective manner,” the official says, adding, “It seems they are conducting daily market monitoring merely to spend the budget that the government has allocated for the purpose.”

Addressing the complaints of resource crunch hampering effective market monitoring, the government has earmarked Rs 25 million for the purpose this fiscal.

In this regard, MoCS has also been preparing to activate the Central Monitoring Committee led by its joint secretary that was formed on September 16 last year after publishing a notice in the
Nepal Gazette.

The Consumer Rights Protection Regulations, 1999 has also envisioned the Central Monitoring Committee. The committee was formed to facilitate and supervise the market monitoring activities of DoCSM.

A version of this article appears in print on September 17, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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