October 7, 2018 02:30 AM NPT
As festival season approaches, government agencies meant for market monitoring wake up. They take media with them, close down few shops and proclaim that the market is all in shape. And when the festival seasons are over, these authorities return to business as usual mode. The consumers get cheated, they are sold substandard products and goods, or are heftily charged and yet no action is taken against them. This is what has been going on in Nepal for years. This must stop for good. The government has to strengthen and better equip the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development and Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest under Ministry of Industries, Commerce and Supplies—the government bodies entrusted to monitor the market—to make it mandatory for their officials to monitor the market at a regular basis so that people get quality food products and other goods. The government must and can do better than episodic stunt often performed by the supplies minister.
As things stand, price of everything has gone up in the market. It is especially acute with consumable goods like rice, sugar, oil which will be in high demand during the festive season. But the government has done nothing to ensure that people do not feel squeezed during Dashain and Tihar. To make the matters worse, transport companies have also increased fares by 10 percent. This will also have ripple effects on the market. People deserve some relief, even for a brief period, during festivals. The government also runs fair price shops in select places around the country. However, those shops have limited supplies and have limited scope as demand vastly surpasses the supply. This is not the solution to rampant increment of price of goods in the market. Only a sustained, systematic and technology-driven monitoring mechanism can check haphazard market pricing system. Collusion between government officials and business people is not unheard of. For some handsome kickbacks, government officials turn blind eye to market manipulation by businesses. This must stop for good.
Effective and result-oriented market mechanism system should be operational round the year. For this, monitoring mechanisms themselves might have to be revamped. People have lost faith in the system as it has never worked for the good of the people. This government has the unique opportunity to instill people’s faith in the system. We can only hope that the two-thirds majority government will come up with technology-driven solutions to curb market manipulation so that the people don’t have to pay more for goods, especially during festivals. With the festivals approaching fast, people have started to come out to the market to buy various essential goods. Market places have started to be crowded and a lot purchasing and selling of food and other essential items has already started. People should not fall into the hands of fraudulent marketers due to lax monitoring by the government.