Ensuring Fair Market
At a time when the general consumers are panicky about irrational price hike, artificial shortage and black marketing in the threshold of major festivals, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Prasad Yadav has expressed government assurance that no irregularities in the market will be tolerated. Festival season is the peak time of shopping of the items like clothes, spices, meat and other daily necessities and some profit minded traders may use this opportune time to hike prices unreasonably. There may also be the chances of artificial scarcity, which often happens in the urban areas, and makes the buyers jittery and uncertain to arrange festive supplies in time. The traders have also earned notoriety for supplying substandard and adulterated goods time and again. Such tendencies mainly affect low-income people who have to buy sundry items under tight budget. But the assurance of the Supply Minister is sure to boost confidence of the shoppers, especially the common consumers. Traders often try to take advantage of the lack of market information on the part of the purchasers. The retailers are required by law to display the prices of the items they are selling but many of them are openly flouting this rule. When the buyers are in dark about actual price of the items they are buying, there are chances of being duped at the hands of profiteers. Effective market monitoring on the part of the concerned government agencies and adequate consumer awareness can make a positive difference to ensure fair market.
Of late, lack marketing and price irregularities of sugar have grabbed media attention lately. The government has rightly banned the import of sugar to promote the product within the country as well as to address the grievances faced by the Nepali sugarcane farmers. Promoting home made products and buying the raw materials from the local farmers is the sound approach for development of sugar industry and attaining self-sufficiency in the supply of this essential commodity. But black marketing can play a damaging role by closing down domestic sugar industries and discourage the sugarcane farmers. Open border between Nepal and India raises the chance of trans-border black marketing when prices of the same commodity are different on two sides of the border. Due to price variance, smugglings take place both to and from Nepal and this is true not only about sugar alone but any other items of public demand. In this regard, Minister Yadav has said that things have rather been inflated in the media. He did not totally deny the possibility of irregularities but said that the media reports about sugar price hike, smuggling and black marketing are only partially true. At this juncture, the price of sugar made in Nepal may be a bit higher than that in India but we should not forget about comparative product quality and the need to promote local industries and welfare of the farmers. In this regard, the government agencies should work effectively to check smuggling and black marketing. The government has fixed the price of the homemade sugar at Rs. 70 and the administration should take stern action against retailers exceeding that rate.