Fuel crisis throws fair price shops into limboThe fair price shops that were scheduled to open in the first week of October are stuck in limbo for lack of gasoline to transport the inventory.
The fair price shops that were scheduled to open in the first week of October are stuck in limbo for lack of gasoline to transport the inventory.
For the last few years, four state-owned companies, namely Nepal Food Corporation (NFC), National Trading Limited (NTL), Salt Trading Corporation (STC) and Dairy Development Corpo-ration (DDC), have been operating such shops with the aim of providing relief to the general public by offering essential goods at discounted rates for the festival season. The fair price shops are also expected to check possible artificial price hikes during the festival rush. Many entities had already announced discount offers.
“Although we have enough stocks for the festival season, we have not yet decided whether to open the fair price shops due to lack of transportation,” said Shreemani Khanal, spokesperson of NFC. He added that they would be selling essential goods through their outlets across the Kathmandu Valley if the current situation remained the same for another few days.
“We had planned to open eight outlets in the valley, but a shortage of fuel has made that impossible. But we will be selling whatever items we have in stock,” said Khanal. According to Khanal, NFC has 29,000 tonnes of rice, wheat and pulses. It has planned to provide a discount of Rs5 per kg on rice and wheat.
NFC said that fewer goats and sheep would be available for the festival this year as strikes in the Tarai had hampered procurement across the country. The corporation expects to bring 1,500 he-goats for this year’s Dashain against 3,000 in previous years.
He said the corporation procures goats from places like Nepal-gunj, Banke, Surkhet, Salyan, Dang, Gaighat and Siraha, among other Tarai districts. “We are trying our best to bring the planned number of he-goats to the valley, but we are not sure whether we will be able to do so,” said Khanal. NFC also plans to bring 1,000 mountain goats from various hill regions like Mustang, Manang, Sindhupalchok and Lamjung.
Likewise, Saroj Nidhi Tiwari, the department head of STC, said, “If the fuel crisis persists for a few more days, we won’t be able to ship the goods, but we will be selling them from our outlets.” Tiwari added that STC had enough stocks of salt, sugar, rice, pulses and edible oil to meet the festival demand.
“We should have set up the fair price shops by now as the Dashain festival is a week away, but the current situation has made us all worried,” said Gita Niroula, sales manager of NTL. It has planned to sell various essential items in coordination with STC and NFC.
Meanwhile, DDC has announced discount offers for its customers. It will provide discounts of Rs20 on ghee and Rs5 on fresh milk. DDC ghee will cost Rs700 with the discount.
“We are not sure about opening fair price shops, but we have launched cash discounts for our customers through our outlets,” said Ganga Prasad Timilsina, general manager of DDC.