KATHMANDU, June 28: The government has failed to step up market monitoring after the Ministry of General Administration (MoGA) dragged its feet in providing new 17 market inspectors to the Department of Commerce (DoC).
In order to check market irregularities and protect consumer rights, the government on December 24 had announced to appoint 20 market monitoring officers in 20 districts, including major commercial hubs, by the end of this fiscal year.
"However, MoGA provided us only three market inspectors," said Shankar Prasad Paudel, director of DoC.
This has prevented the department from fulfilling assigned tasks such as control of black marketing, sales of date expired and substandard products, and undue pricing in the market.
If MoGA did not fulfill vacant posts by the end of this fiscal year, it would need to knock on the doors of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to recruit the officials, which will take more than six months.
DoC has appointed the three inspectors that it recently received in Jhapa, Sunsari and Chitwan districts. These inspectors would work to uphold the Competition Promotion and Market Protection Act 2007.
Under this, the officials would need to ensure fair competition, prevent undue interferences in the marker, assure easy availability of quality goods and services at fair prices and control syndicate, cartel and black marketing, among others.
“The appointment of the market monitoring officers has assured that consumers rights are protected and anti-competitive practices are checked in those districts,” said Paudel.
However, DoC cannot assure such a situation in 17 districts where it lacks legally provisioned market inspectors.
DoC has been spearheading market monitoring through market inspectors appointed at its offices in five districts outside the valley, namely Morang, Birgunj, Rupandehi, Banke and Dhangadhi. In other districts, market inspectors are placed in cottage and small industry offices and other government agencies.
“We will expand our offices in major commercial centers once the government appoints more market inspectors,” said Paudel.
Meanwhile, in order to regulate the services and quality of food at small hotels and restaurants, DoC has recently issued letters to all 75 District Administration Offices to implement the directives prepared by the government at the earliest.
“We have already started monitoring small hotels and restaurants within the Kathmandu Valley,” said Poudel, adding: “We expect chief district officers (CDOs) in districts outside the valley to start monitoring soon.”