KATHMANDU; The Price Hike Recommendation Committee submitted its report to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal last week, suggesting certain immediate measures to control the skyrocketing prices of daily commodities.
The UML-led coalition government has to implement the report if it is serious about controlling the price rise.
The price mechanism needs to come into effect soon so that the people can get welcome relief during the upcoming festivities like Dashain and Tihar.
The panel has pitched for an effective monitoring system to thwart the black marketers’ designs.
Hoarding is rampant these days, thanks to lack of proper mechanism. The authorities plead helplessness to tackle the growing menace.
The committee has suggested that the government must take necessary steps to increase the agricultural yield. Both the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives maintained that the budget for their respective departments was slashed as compared to last year.
The common perception is that it would be impossible to control price hike unless there is a quantum increase in the agricultural output.
Suggestion has been made to set up Buffer Zone across the nation to store foodgrains. There has been acute food insecurity in the remote areas due to lack of Buffer Zone.
The report pointed out that the poor implementation of the rule of law and regulation had led to heightened hoarding. No wonder, at one level, the price rise is, well and truly, artificial, engineered by the hoarders.
It has been noted that the sister organisations of almost all political parties demand exorbitant donations from industrialists, which, in turn, leads to spiralling prices.
The report stressed that political commitment was a must to discourage this trend. Armed groups that are active across the nation, too, are resorting to donation drive. And the businessmen are at the receiving end due to this sort of blatant extortion.
The report has observed that the income of the urban folks had gone up in recent times.
Flush with more disposable income, they are buying various semi-luxurious goods, contributing to the rise in price of commodities.
External causes, too, are responsible. For instance, the appreciation of US dollar against the Nepali rupee and high demand for rice in the international market for the past two years can be dubbed as some of the extraneous reasons.
How can the government fight against these heavy odds?
To begin with, the government needs to strengthen its monitoring agencies, which have to be set up at the grass-root level.
The report also calls for an immediate enforcement of price list and lowering of tax on daily commodities.
Though the government has directed the shops to follow price list, the retailers are allegedly defying the order. It is in favour of management of a hotline
for consumers’ redressal of grievances.
Additional stores also have to be established. The culture of strike, bandh and attendant forms of protest have to be put to an end.
The supply mechanism has to be effective along with compulsory ration card for the poor.
A comprehensive national food policy is the need of the hour. An industrial security force has to be set up that can provide adequate protection to the businessmen at the earliest.