KATHMANDU, Sept 12: Traders of the upscale Durbar Marg area of Kathmandu have resumed their businesses after closing down since Thursday to protest the sealing of some stores by the government.
By resuming their businesses, they have stepped back from their campaign to press the government to halt market monitoring and raids of business shops.
Earlier last week, the government had sealed nearly a dozen stores after they were found to be charging exorbitant prices to consumers during the market monitoring and raids carried out by the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers (DSMPC).
The department had sealed nine stores in Durbar Marg and two stores in New Road after they were found overcharging consumers during the monitoring of the market.
Instead of cooperating with the investigation process, these outlets in Durbar Marg that claim to be selling branded cloths, footwear, apparels, shoes and accessories, among others, had resorted to an indefinite shutdown to challenge the government. They also sought political lobbying through their umbrella organizations.
Though the agitating Durbar Marg Development Board (DMDB) had promptly decided to shut down all stores in the prime business location for an 'indefinite period' to oppose the market monitoring and raids of stores, it decided to reopen the market as such a closure was hit its own businesses during the festive season.
DMDB said it decided to open the shuttered shops keeping in view the upcoming Dashain and Tihar festival.
“Despite our protests against the government act to raid the businesses and smear the reputation of traders, we have decided to open the market as people have been facing inconvenience in the eve of festivals like Dashain and Tihar,” said Gopal Sundar Lal Kakshapati, the DMDB's president. “Nepal Chamber of Commerce has also requested us to reopen the market promising us to taking lead in facilitating the current problem,” he said, referring to the fate of the stores which were sealed by the department.
While the nine stores which were sealed couldn't open the shutter, the other stores who had shut down their business in solidarity with the sealed stores were losing millions of rupees in daily business during the shopping season.
Officials of the DSMPC, however, said the investigation of the sealed stores was underway and proprietors of some sealed stores were yet to appear in the department with necessary documents to record their statement.
“The seal of the stores would be opened only after gathering necessary investigation and the department is convinced that there is no possibility of tampering with the evidences,” said Laxman Shrestha, a director at the DSMPC.
The officials of the department said that they would pursue legal action against the traders if the investigation found them responsible. According to the department officials, they would forward the case to the Inland Revenue Department and Department of Revenue Investigation if the under-invoicing or tax evasion was found during their investigation.