KATHMANDU, Sept 14: Even though the government on Thursday announced that the newly fixed Maximum Retail Prices (MRPs) of 15 essential food items will come into immediate effect, the relailers on Friday continued to charge customers prevailing rates which are higher than the MRPs saying that they will need a week´s time to comply with the decision.
“We cannot cut prices overnight as we have already paid higher prices to the wholesalers. Hence, we will need a week time to strictly comply with the MRPs," said Pabitra Bajracharya, president of Nepal Retailers´ Association (NRA).
A meeting of the retailers association held on Friday reiterated that most of the retailers buy stock enough for one to two weeks and it was difficult for them sell the products at prices lower than what they paid to the wholesaler for the supply.
"We have already informed the Department of Commerce and Supply Management of this reality and have sought for additional time of a week. We will make sure the retailers start selling goods at MRPs once they get the new lot of supply," Bajracharya said.
Nonetheless, the meeting of the association requested the retailers to reduce the price of the possible commodities. "We instructed our members to cut prices on products in which they do not suffer loss. As for the goods, whose MRP is lower than what the retailers paid to the wholesalers, we instructed them to trade at MRPs as soon as they acquire the new supply," Bajracharya added.
Moreover, the retailers urged the the government to fix the wholesale price as well if it want to make MRPs sustain and work effectively. "Otherwise, retailers alone cannot sell the goods at reduced price,” said Bajracharya.
Prem Paudel, director of Department of Commerce and Supply Management (DoCSM), however, said that as the businessmen had agreed on the fixed MRP in the meeting yesterday they had to implement it as soon as possible.
“It is now the rights of the consumers to get the commodities at the prices fixed by the government,” said Paudel.
The department started monitoring the enforcement of the MRPs from Friday itself, but the inspectors did not take any action against the retailers despite their lack of compliance. "We showed liniency because not all retailers were aware of the MRPs as its decision was taken late Thursday," said a DoCSM official.
He even indicated that the department might maintain this approach for a week "as concerns of retailers were genuine". "But we will tighten our hold and start taking action if they refused to comply with the MRPs from the next week," said the source.
According to the NRA, there are more than 20,000 retailers in the capital city.
Roll back MRP decision: FNCCI
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) has condemned the government´s decision to cap the prices of 15 food items, saying that it goes against the spirit of free market economy and urged the government to revoke the decision.
“We appeal government to take back the decision as it is a move that indicates a roll back of market economic policy" FNCCI said in a press release on Friday.
FNCCI has noted that the prices rose unnaturally in the market because of the cartel of traders and syndicate of transporters. Effectively, the government should have taken strong steps to control such anti-competitive practices and make the market mechanism work. "Sadly, it chose the populist and easier path. But will the MRP end the evils present in the market?" FNCCI asked.