KATHMANDU, Aug 29: The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection slapped a cash fine totaling Rs 34.73 million against the traders creating market anomalies in the last fiscal year. However, a number of traders have been refusing to submit the penalty to the state coffers, leaving the market regulator helpless to take any further action against them.
According to the department, it cross-checked 1,871 business outlets last year. Of them, 583 firms were found to have defied government rules and were charged the aforementioned amount in fine. Based on the provision in the Consumer Act 2018, the department slapped these firms with on-the-spot cash fines of up to Rs 300,000. But the regulator is yet to recover Rs 1.7 million from these traders.
As per the department’s officials, Saleways Department Store in Pulchowk has not paid a penalty of Rs 200,000 till date. The department store was found guilty during a market inspection conducted by the regulator five months ago.
A total of 50 firms are in the department’s list that have been refusing to abide by the state’s law. Sobha Electric, Sundhara; Buddha Bazar Pvt Ltd, Sitapaila; Summit Hospital, Lalitpur; Chaudhary Electricals, Khichapokhari and Motherland Health Care, Thankot were among others that have not turned up to clear the amount.
The department officials said that these firms with the backing of influential political figures and high-ranking government officials have been refusing to clear the fines. “Many of them do not pick the phone while a few others even try to issue threats against department officials during follow ups,” the source said.
The Consumer Act has empowered the department to check misconducts in the market to relieve the consumers. However, the market inspections have not been effective due to a number of factors. The department being poorly equipped with necessary resources is one of them. In addition, the department reels under a shortfall of manpower and lack of cooperation from other government agencies.
As a result, problems like the selling of substandard goods, shops without price lists, hoarding to create artificial shortage and price hike and transactions without issuance of invoices are rampant in the market.