Monday, 1 March, 2021

Consumers bear brunt of rampant commodity price hike


By Mukunda Gaire, Kathmandu, Jan. 24: Just after undergoing a grinding situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumers are now faced with an exorbitant price hike of commodities.

Various businessmen said that recently there has been an increase in the prices of commodities such as oil, rice and peas. The Chairperson of the Nepal Retailers Association Rajkumar Shrestha said that, there has been a callous way to increase the prices of oil.

 It has been observed that even for the same brand of oil there are various prices for it in the market. Just a month ago, a kilogram of black soybean oil which used to cost 165 rupees is now 210 rupees, said Shrestha.

Sunflower oil which used to cost 185 rupees per kg a while ago now costs Rs. 225 per kg. There has also been a rise in the price of mustard oil, said Nepal Retailers Association. Just a few days ago, green peas would cost Rs. 90 a kg, but it is sold at Rs.100 a kg now.

"Since the rice produced in Nepal is not enough to feed the country, rice is imported from India, which leads to the increase in prices. Even in India where rice is not in surplus, we have to import it via Vietnam", Chairperson Shrestha said.

“It has come to our attention that since India does not have sufficient oil, Nepali food oil mills have been exporting to India due to which there has been a rise in the prices of oil in Nepal,” said Shrestha. However, he also said that they did not know why there had been an increase in price as of now. He said that the pandemic affected consumers have been cheated due to a careless increase in the MRP.

Director-General of Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection, ​Netra Prasad Subedi, said that the hike in the prices of cooking oil is being discussed by the government and efforts are being taken to launch an enquiry for those cheating consumers.

Since there is no reason to hike prices now we will launch enquiry into those who are hiking prices. Subedi also said that there has been an increase in the price of construction materials. Those increasing the prices are being watched.

­­­­The department has asked the cooking oil producers to present a report as to why oil prices are being hiked. The department made such an instruction following an increase in the prices of food oil to 30 percent in the last one and a half months.

According to the statistics published by Nepal Rastra Bank, there has been a 13.09 percent increase in the prices of ghee and oil. The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection ​ have asked for the popular 17 Nepali oil producers to submit a report justifying the hike in prices of food oil.

Oil producers have justified the increase in the prices of oil due to an increase in the prices of the raw components that they use to manufacture oil from abroad. According to the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection, ​ till now 11 oil brands such as Swastik, Shivashakti, Sushil Banaspati Ghee and Amrit Ganapati Cook have presented a report justifying an increase in the prices of food oil.

According to Premlal Mahrajan, Chairperson of the National Consumers' Forum Nepal, there is no justification for the increase in the prices of oil. “Since there is no restriction on the import of raw ingredients so why is there an increase in the prices of oil,” Maharjan asked the oil producers.

Chairperson Maharjan said that the oil producers are taking advantage of the instability in the country. Until and unless the government takes strict actions, this looting will not stop, said Maharjan. The government needs to conduct strict enquiries into these corrupt oil producers. Instead of fining only, the government needs to take strong steps to keep the oil producers in line.

According to Maharjan the government instead of letting them off the hook by collecting fines needs to take stringent action against them to bring them to their senses.

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