Heads I win

Nepali consumers have come to believe with a sense of resignation that the prices here only go up. The price trend in Nepal, according to them, seems to defy the economic laws. There may well be an element of exaggeration in this blanket view of things, but, at the same time, judging by the way prices have moved over the years in Nepal, one finds it difficult to deny a degree of truth. This is because, many prices, once up, defy the Newtonian law on gravity, whatever the interplay of supply and demand. The furore is now over the unyielding public transport fares. The transport operators were quick to jack up the fares as soon as the fuel price was raised by the NOC.

Now that the oil price has been slashed several times in the past few months, their turn has come to cut fares. But they are singing a different tune. They, as well as the government, had talked of setting ‘scientific’ fares that would also take care of the oil price swings. Two weeks ago, the government introduced ‘scientific’ fares, declaring determination to enforce them. As the transport operators gave the new rates the go-by, the government set some sleuths on the prowl. They found a number of offenders; according to them, 95 per cent were charging as before. They have initiated action. It will not be a bit surprising if this action leads to howls of protest from the transport lobby. When it comes to protecting their interests, fair or foul, birds of a feather flock together.