Government studying clarification by vegetable wholesalers illegally renting out stalls allotted to them
KATHMANDU, July 4: Officials at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board are reviewing clarifications submitted by wholesalers and retailers who have rented out their stalls at the Kalimati Vegetables Market to other traders.
The board has started legal action against 98 wholesalers and retailers as per the direction of the Minister for Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives. The ministry issued the instruction after a surprise inspection by Minister for Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives some weeks ago found, among others, that traders, who own stalls at the vegetables market, were renting out their stalls to other traders charging high rental fee.
The stalls, which were allotted by holding a lucky draw among interested parties who had submitted letter of intent to the board, have become a good source of income for those parties. They are required to pay Rs 9,000 as rental fee for the stall spread over 80 square foot. However, they have been found renting out the space to other traders by charging as much as Rs 100,000 per stall per month.
According to officials of the board, 93 out of 98 wrongdoing wholesalers and retailers have submitted their clarifications.
Speaking at a program organized in Kathmandu on Tuesday, Minister Khanal said that traders were found collecting rental fee of as high as Rs 100,000 per stall. “Enough is enough. I have directed the board to take strong action against these wrongdoers,” he added.
Talking to Republica, Tejendra Paudel, executive director of the board, said that they have received complaints of traders, to whom the stall has been allotted, charging rental fee of as high as Rs 30,000 from other traders. “This means, they are pocketing Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000 per month without doing anything,” he added.
The board allotted the stalls to traders at cheaper rates so that farmers get good price for their produce and also general public get vegetables at cheaper rates. “But neither farmers are getting good price, nor vegetable is available to consumers at affordable rates. It is because of illcit activities of traders like these,” said Paudel.
He also said these traders often increased price of certain vegetables and create artificial shortage by working in collusion.
“We are studying clarifications furnished by the wrongdoing traders. If we do not find their clarifications satisfactory, we will revoke the stall rental deal with them and award the stalls to other interested people within a week,” Paudel added. “But we will prepare modality for allotting such stalls.”
Minister Khanal asked the wrongdoing traders to correct themselves. “If they fail to follow our directions and correct themselves, we will be forced to take stern action against them. We could go to the extent of shutting down the market,” he added.
During the minister's monitoring, the board had asked other 131 traders to correct themselves abiding by the rules and regulations of the board.