KATHMANDU, March 19: The government on Wednesday decided to sell the face masks confiscated from the black marketeers through Sajha Swasthya Sewa Cooperative (SSSC).
During a meeting of a committee formed to take measures against COVID-19, the government decided to hand over the masks confiscated by the Nepal Police to the cooperative.
In the last few days, police have confiscated more than two million units of medical masks from different parts of the Kathmandu Valley.
Likewise, the meeting led by Minister for Defense Ishwar Pokhrel also decided to provide 500,000 units of face masks to the Ministry of Health and Population.
“The government has decided send the confiscated medical masks to the government-owned Sajha Swasthya Sewa Cooperative,” said Jeevan Acharya, deputy chief district officer at the District Administration Office, Kathmandu.
“The confiscated masks will be handed over to the cooperative at the earliest,” said Acharya. The confiscated masks will be sold from four medical stores of the cooperative in Kathmandu.
It might still take a few more days for the confiscated masks to reach the market, officials said.
“The confiscated masks are yet to be handed over to the SSSC. The cooperative will start distribution after the government hands over the confiscated masks by completing the due process,” Bharat Dhakal, president at SSSC, told Republica.
The masks will be handed over to the SSSC after coordination between the local administration, Inland Revenue Department, and the Office of Attorney General.
The medical masks are currently stored at the Teku-based Metropolitan Police Range. In the meantime, police said that they can only hand over the confiscated materials after decision from the government. “We [police] will hand over the confiscated masks to the SSSC after getting an official letter from the local administration,” said DSP Hobindra Bogati, spokesperson for the Teku Metropolitan Police Range.
Meanwhile, the SSSC has said that it will take a few days for them to start selling the medical masks.
According to the local administration, the face masks have been valued at Rs 3.5 per piece and the SSSC can mark up the price by up to 20 percent by adding transport and other costs.
According to police, black marketeers had sold those masks at more than Rs 30 per piece.
On March 14, police arrested eight persons from Kathmandu Metropolis-15 for their alleged involvement in black marketing of face masks. It confiscated 78,000 pieces of face masks.
Likewise, in the last three days, police have confiscated two million masks from Swayambhu, Satungal and Mid-Baneshwar areas.