KATHMANDU, Oct 2: The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection (DoCSP) has fined 140 stores out of 298 in course of its market monitoring for the upcoming festive season.
According to the department officials, those stores were fined Rs 2.38 million for charging customers arbitrarily, failing to furnish required documents, and selling sub-standard products.
The department has started market monitoring from August 18 with an aim to check unscrupulous practices in the market during the Dashain, Tihar, and Chhath festivals, officials said.
According to data from the department, it carried out market monitoring between mid-August and mid-September as well as in the last week of September.
The government has intensified market monitoring for the festive season as many traders tend to overly charge and sell substandard or adulterated products to the customers.
“We have monitored malls, branded shops, ordinary shops, grocery shops and vegetable market this year,” said Yogendra Gauchan, director general at the department.
According to officials, some traders shut down their stores as soon as they see market inspectors coming for monitoring.
“As soon as we reached some malls, the stores were shuttered. Those stores who refused to cooperate with the market inspectors during the monitoring were also fined on the spot,” said Gauchan.
To check the market distortion and to protect the interest of consumers, nearly half dozen
agencies are working under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.
The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, Department of Livestock Department, DoCSP, and local governments among others work for consumer protection.
The department has monitored various stores at Durbarmarg, Lalitpur, Civil Mall in Sundhara, vegetable market of Kalimati, and BG Mall of Gongabu in recent weeks.
“While some small stores were found to be unaware about the rules that they have to follow, there were branded shops that were flouting rules even after knowing them,” Gauchan said.
However, the department is criticized for its monitoring only during the festive season. Some consumer rights activists say that the market monitoring has not been able to curb malpractices and anomalies in the market.
However, Gauchan defended the move of market inspection, arguing that it was protecting consumers from being cheated by the traders. “Every year, we do market monitoring and we have found some changes. It is also helping to educate small stores on the rules that they have to follow,” he added.
Following the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 in February, the market inspectors have got the authority to impose fine on the spot if any producer, transporter, importer, seller or service provider is found to be violating rules.
Earlier before the law was introduced, the market inspectors did not have any authority to penalize those who were flouting the rules.