Durbar Marg shops reopen citing holidayShops on Durbar Marg reopened on Monday after a four-day strike to protest the closure of a number of branded stores by the government on charges of overpricing.
Shops on Durbar Marg reopened on Monday after a four-day strike to protest the closure of a number of branded stores by the government on charges of overpricing.
Last week, after a market inspection team from the Department of Supplies Management (DoSM) sealed nine branded stores for charging exorbitant prices, shopkeepers pulled down their shutters claiming that they had been unfairly treated.
The outlets included branded stores selling products from international brands such as Nike, Reebok, Puma, Bentley and Levis, among others. The market inspection team said some of the products on sale had a markup of as much as 2,300 percent.
Gopal Kakshapati, president of the Durbar Marg Development Board, said they had decided to reopen the stores due to the onset of the Dashain and Tihar festival shopping season.
Kakshapati said that all the stores on the shopping street except the nine sealed by the government had reopened for business. According to him, the nine shopkeepers are in the process of providing a clarification to the department.
“However, the department has not begun its probe by examining the paperwork submitted by the merchants and has instead been summoning them repeatedly citing the need for further investigation,” Kakshapati said.
According to the traders, there are 160 outlets on Durbar Marg, the capital’s most fashionable shopping street. Half of the stores sell outfits and accessories.
While the department has accused the traders of charging exorbitant prices, they said that a thorough investigation should have been carried out before sealing their stores. The shopkeepers have blamed the department for delaying removing the seals due to lack of coordination with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).
Meanwhile the DoSM said it had started its investigation of the traders accused of wrongdoing. “We have also written to the IRD requesting its okay to probe matters
related to possible tax evasion and under-invoicing,” said Laxman Shrestha, director of the DoSM.
IRD Spokesperson Yagya Dhungel said the IRD was not in a position to intervene in the investigation that had been carried out unilaterally by the DoSM. “As we were not part of the market monitoring team when the raid was made, the matter is out of our jurisdiction,” he said.
According to Dhungel, the DoSM has not sent any official letter to the IRD in this regard. “If we receive an official letter from the DoSM, we will consider our duty based on the laws related to the IRD,” he Dhungel.