Minister vows action against Durbarmarg storesSupplies Minister Shiva Kumar Mandal on Tuesday said the government did not raid stores in Durbarmarg for mere publicity but to provide relief to customers who were being “shortchanged by retailers”.
Supplies Minister Shiva Kumar Mandal on Tuesday said the government did not raid stores in Durbarmarg for mere publicity but to provide relief to customers who were being “shortchanged by retailers”.
His statement comes at a time when many are saying it is not minister’s job to inspect stores and he took part in the raid to gain “cheap popularity”.
The minister said his ministry had conducted “a thorough investigation before conducting the raids”. “We knew about malpractices beforehand,” Minister Mandal told a programme held in Kathmandu on Tuesday, adding, “The government will not dither and take stern action against traders engaged in malpractices.”
The action, according to the minister, will be taken as per the provisions in the Black-marketing and Some Other Social Offenses and Punishment Act. “We will not spare them,” he added.
Last week, the Department of Supplies Management sealed nine outlets in Durbarmarg. Some of these outlets were selling internationally-renowned brands such as Nike, Reebok, Puma and Levis, among others. During market inspections, these stores were found “marking-up the cost price by as much as 2,300 percent”.
These stores, on the pretext of operating franchise stores of popular brands, were charging exorbitant prices on the products they sold. The Supplies Ministry has also accused these stores of their involvement in underinvoicing to evade customs duty and value added tax. This has prompted the state to suffer heavy losses in revenue collection.
Following government action, shops located in Durbarmarg had shut down their businesses for four days to exert pressure on concerned authorities. The shops resumed their businesses on Monday. These traders had even sought support of the private sector umbrella associations such as the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Nepal Chamber of Commerce to exert pressure on the government to roll back the action.
“The government authority this time will not bow down to any type of pressure from traders involved in malpractice,” Mandal said, adding, “Although it is not possible to conduct effective market inspection throughout the country, we are planning to make similar symbolic moves in other parts of the country as well. This will serve as a warning to unscrupulous traders.” As per the minister, locations outside the Valley have seen a rise in sales of adulterated edibles.
“On Tuesday, the ministry directed the authority in Sunsari district to take stern action against traders found guilty during market inspection,” Mandal said.