Saturday 25th September 2021

Black marketing on the rise despite of the epidemic; traders charging high prices


Published on : 9 May, 2021 3:51 pm

Black market has increased as a result of weak monitoring by the government. Traders are taking chances on the epidemic and selling goods at high prices than usual. In his address to the people a few days ago, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had stated that strict action would be taken against those involved in black marketing of medicines & covid-19 related items. But the black marketing in the market has not stopped. Especially when the corona infection is spreading rapidly, there is black marketing in high-demand items such as sanitizers, masks, oxi-meters, thermometers and thermal guns. Lately, even retail pharmacies from the industry have been in the black-market trade.

Since there is decrease in oxygen level in the Covid-19 infected, most people now have home-based oxi-meters to measure oxygen at home. Therefore, the demand for oxi-meters is relatively high in the market at present. Seizing the opportunity, traders have started charging higher prices.

Recently, Nepal police has arrested a local drug dealer selling oxi-meter at high price. Ram Hari Tiwari, 32, of Birgunj in Parsa district had been selling  an oxi-meter worth Rs 1,900 at a pharmacy in his own house for up to Rs 3,500. Police also recovered 12 oxi-meters from Tiwari’s shop.

Some time ago, the government took action against some of the industries that black-marketed surgical masks. The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection has taken action against those industries. Earlier, the department has taken action against Al Fine Surgical Suppliers in Tripureshwar for black-marketing surgical masks. The department had found that the surgical masks bought by the suppliers at Rs 4.46 per piece were sold at Rs 8.38 per piece. The department has already imposed a fine of Rs 200,000 on the firm. Similarly, the department had taken action against Himalayan Life Care Industries of Bhaktapur. The industry has been taken into action after the industry created an artificial shortage of surgical masks and black-marketed them. The department had fined the industry Rs 50,000 as per Section 38 of the Consumer Protection Act 2075 BS. Earlier, the department had also fined five wholesale firms Rs 10,000 on the basis of complaints lodged. Similarly, the department had also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on businessmen selling fruits at higher prices.

The price of sugar on the rise, the price of edible oil did not go down

Nepalese industries have increased the price of sugar by covering up the opportunity of the lock-down. With the lock-down on implementation, the sugar industry has hiked the price of sugar. At present, the price of sugar has gone up by Rs 8 per kg. The import of sugar entering Nepal illegally from the open border with India has stopped due to the lock-down. The industrialists have increased the price of sugar to cover the opportunity in the domestic market.

Similarly, the price of edible oil, which has risen several times since last Tihar, has not come down yet. The oil industry has repeatedly raised the price of oil, saying that the price of crude oil has gone up. But the government has taken no action. Many industries have shut down since last year due to Covid-19 effect. In such situation, thousands of workers lost their jobs and many had their pay cuts. As a result, the income of the general public has fallen sharply. And to make it even worse. The public are affected due to the rise in prices of daily necessities and black marketing during the epidemic. The government has not been able to take any drastic steps even though the backs of the consumers have been crushed due to black market.

The government always has a ready-made answer

Nepalese industries have increased the price of sugar by covering up the opportunity of the lock-down. With the lock-down on implementation, the sugar industry has hiked the price of sugar. At present, the price of sugar has gone up by Rs 8 per kg. The import of sugar entering Nepal illegally from the open border with India has stopped due to the lock-down. The industrialists have increased the price of sugar to cover the opportunity in the domestic market. Similarly, the price of edible oil, which has risen several times since last Tihar, has not come down yet. The oil industry has repeatedly raised the price of oil, saying that the price of crude oil has gone up. But the government has taken no action. Many industries have shut down since last year due to Covid-19 effect. In such situation, thousands of workers lost their jobs and many had their pay cuts. As a result, the income of the general public has fallen sharply. And to make it even worse. The public are affected due to the rise in prices of daily necessities and black marketing during the epidemic. The government has not been able to take any drastic steps even though the backs of the consumers have been crushed due to black market.

Black marketing is flourishing in the market due to lack of effective government monitoring. At present, the lock-down has been imposed across 60 districts of the country. Ordinary people are forced to stay at home because of the lock-down. The second-wave of covid-19 is so powerful that it can spread rapidly and kill the infected people due to which more panic has spread among the common people than before. Therefore, the government has not been able to make the monitoring effective for fear of transmitting the infection during field monitoring at such a time. A department source said that the employees were afraid of being contaminated by the virus.

But the government has said it is monitoring the market regularly. Spokesperson of the department Shivraj Sedhai said that action is being taken against those who create artificial shortage in the market and take more price taking chance of the epidemic. Spokesperson Sedhai said that the government will not spare anyone who are involved in black marketing activities. Spokesperson Sedai further stated that the government is monitoring the black marketeers who are creating artificial shortage of surgical masks, sanitizers, oxi-meters, thermal guns and other daily necessities including pulses, rice, edible oil and nuts.  

The department has formed six monitoring teams to monitor the market daily, said Sedhai. The department has also requested to contact the hotline number 1137 (free of cost) of the department if it is found that there is an artificial shortage in medicinal items and other daily necessities and if it is found to be overcharged.

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