Retailers fleecing consumers

Kathmandu, September 29:

With no regulatory body to fix prices of daily commodities in the country, consumers are being forced to pay exorbitant prices fixed by the retailers on the basis of demand and supply of the commodity.

Though different government agencies are responsible to check and control black marketing of daily commodities, but there is none to fix the price of any commodity in the Valley.

“Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology looks after standards in quality and weight; Nepal Oil Corporation checks adulteration in petroleum products and District Administration Office looks after black marketing of daily commodities. But there is no government body to fix the prices of daily commodities,” Shankar Prasad Poudel, director of Department of Commerce, told this daily today.

Though retailers say the prices of daily commodities have been increasing day by day, wholesalers maintain that there had been no recent change in the prices of daily commodities.

The price of commodities increases significantly when it reaches to retailers. One kilogram of sugar costs Rs 45 in the wholesale market but retailers charge Rs 55 from consumers. Similarly, consumers are forced to pay Rs 12 for a bar of washing soap which costs less than Rs 10 in the wholesale market.

“As per international practice, a shopkeeper can have up to 10 per cent profit margin in food items. But the shopkeepers are charging exorbitant rates for food items on the basis of their supply and demand. This is happening due to the lack of a separate government body to monitor and fix the prices of daily commodities,” Poudel said, adding that the lack of law to protect consumers’ rights was other reason behind it.

Kathmandu CDO Dhruba Prasad Sharma says his office deploys officers to check illegal price hike of consumer goods as soon as it receives complaints from the consumers.