Bad apple

Some businessmen gheraoed the Labour and Transport Management Minister Ramesh Lekhak in Butwal on Wednesday demanding an end to the syndicate system. The union members of Siddharthanagar Chambers of Commerce are up in arms against the syndicate system operated by truck entrepreneurs. A meeting of the representatives of the ministry, the chambers of commerce and truck entrepreneurs on June 12 had decided to end the system but to no avail. Not only the truckers but even a number of bus operators continue to run syndicates on different routes of the country. Some form of cartel exists among businessmen in some other lines. This goes against the spirit of competition that free enterprise is supposed to promote in the larger interest of the consumers and the national economy.

Since Nepal has gained WTO membership and has already embarked on the path of liberalisation and economic reforms, it will have to abide by the rules of the free market economy. Cartels in any form have no place in such a scheme of things. While the cartels determine price or production, they tend to deny the benefits of private competition to the general public, or even to other competitors outside their fold, whereas the members of a cartel derive the advantages of monopoly in the name of private enterprise. The quality of goods and services will suffer as a result. The government must heed the demands of the protesters. Not only that, it should take effective steps to check such tendencies in any sector of the economy. As consumer is the boss, he must be given the choice, at least.