Govt laxity blamed for growing market ills

Published On: July 14, 2016 12:40 AM NPT By: Sujan Dhungana

KATHMANDU, July 14: There is a state of lawlessness in the market as state agencies are becoming increasingly unable to take action against wrongdoers. Market regulators have been reduced to mere spectators as traders and market cartels continue to take advantage of weak laws and government laxity.

Recently, traders chased away members of market inspection team when they reached Balkhu Vegetables Market for market monitoring. Clash ensued between traders and market inspectors when the latter tried to seize substandard weighing machines used by the traders. This episode lays bare the weakness of the Department of Supply and Consumer Welfare Protection.

In another case, liquefied petroleum (LP) gas bottlers openly challenged the government by refusing to collect product delivery order - a document used by bottlers to import LP gas from India. The government, especially Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), could do nothing even as the bottlers tried to affect LP gas supply in the market.

These incidents show how anarchy is ruling the market. Taking advantage of government's weakness and ineffective laws and policies, unscrupulous traders are openly fleecing consumers.

“These incidents pose a great threat to consumer rights. If they are not dealt with effectively in time, the situation might go out of hand,” former commerce secretary Purshottam Ojha told Republica, adding: “Wrongdoers are becoming stronger due to ineffectiveness of market regulators and toothless government laws and policies.”

Ojha also said market anomalies could have been controlled had the government not turned soft toward unscrupulous traders in the past. The former bureaucrat also emphasized the need to bring more consumer-related laws and policies, implement existing policies, and make regulators to take immediate action against the wrongdoers.

Madhav Timalsina, president of Consumer Rights Investigation Forum (CRIF), suspected that market regulators are working hand in glove with unscrupulous traders. “Wrongdoers are walking away scot free with great ease. This shows that they are getting support from regulators in one way or the other,” he alleged.

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