KATHMANDU, March 15: Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) has clarified that the government does not have any plan to dissolve the Department of Supplies and Protection of Consumers' Interest (DoSMPCI).
The ministry made the comment at a time when news reports about scrapping of the department are being circulated in different media outlets.
The department will continue to function as a supplies regulator in the country. The ministry, however, has been trying to inform the local units that certain monitoring responsibilities envisioned by the constitution now come under their jurisdiction, an official of the ministry said.
“It is not that department is being dissolved,” Anil Thakur, supplies secretary, said. “We have only been trying to make the local bodies aware of their monitoring responsibilities at the local level.”
Thakur, however, added that activities and working area of the supplies department will be reduced after the local bodies start shouldering their responsibilities.
Officials of the department have reiterated that the department's existence is vital for the regulation of markets at the macro level. “The construction has stated that local bodies will undertake monitoring responsibilities in their respective areas,” Laxman Shrestha, director of DoSMPCI, said. “But the department needs to exist for market regulation in large sectors like industries.” He also said that the department will now have a new role of guiding local bodies and making policies for them.
Administrative experts have also said that a centrally-located market watchdog is a necessity even in federal structure. “The constitution has mentioned role for local units as well in market regulation. Centre, province, and local units need to have combined efforts to regulate the market,” said Khim Lal Devkota, an expert in administration and federal affairs. “However, local units do not seem ready for market monitoring right now. The government should strengthen them in that case.”
Schedule 7 of the Constitution of Nepal has mentioned supply, distribution, price control, quality and monitoring of essential goods and services in the list of concurrent powers of federation and state. On the other hand, Schedule 8 has mentioned local market management in the list of powers of local units.
The department has not been functioning competently in recent times. The department has not proved very successful if we look at its recent cases. It lacks legal officers. It has even failed to conclude the recent 'Durbar Marg Tax Evasion' case, in which the department has frequently been pointing fingers at other agencies like the Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI).
On the other hand, the status of market regulation by local units is still unknown. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) has said that the ministry is not informed about any sort of market regulation activities carried out by local units. “We are not aware of the market regulation activities conducted by the local units,” said Rudra Singh Tamang, spokesperson for MoFAGA, told Republica.