January 10: Artificial shortage of edible oil is reportedly on the rise with the increase in in its price. Big industries and businessmen as well as middlemen are believed to have created artificial shortage of oil taking advantage of political instability in the country and the increase in price of raw materials of oil in the international market.
Stakeholders have accused the big businessmen of causing artificial shortage and then selling the oil at high price. According to the Retail Business Association, the price of edible oil has been increasing steadily since August/September.
The price of soybean oil has increased by almost 50 percent since late August. After the increment, soybean oil is now being sold at Rs 225 per litre.
Mustard oil of Dhara brand, which used to cost Rs 220 per litre, has increased by 18 percent and is not being sold at Rs 250 per litre.
The price of sunflower oil has increased by 29 percent. Sunflower oil used to be sold at Rs 180 per litre before August. The new price is now Rs 210 per litre.
Chairman of Retail Business Association Raj Kumar Shrestha informed that big industries increased the price of edible oil all of a sudden citing an increase in price of raw materials in the international market.
Shrestha claimed that an artificial shortage of soybean and sunflower oil has been created in the market in collusion between industrialists, middlemen and big businessmen involved in this trade.
“It is difficult to find soybean and sunflower oil in the market,” said Shrestha.
Industrialists and businessmen have been exporting edible oil to India in large quantities at the moment. It is also one of the reasons for the shortage of oil in the domestic market of Nepal.
It has been learnt that the industrialists are more interested to sell their products in India because the Indian businessmen pay in cash while the local dealers purchase oil in credit.
Consumers have been at the receiving end as edible oil of the same brand is different prices labeled in different shops. Although the retail price of Dhara mustard oil is said to be Rs 250 per litre, the retailers have been found selling the product for Rs 260.
According to the Consumer Right Investigation Forum (CRIF), the market is in crisis because the government monitoring team and mechanism have become business-oriented.
Chairman of CRIF Madhav Timilsina says that the government authorities who have been authorized to regulate the market call the people involved in black marketing and discuss the issue with them instead of taking action. This trend has caused further chaos, says Timilsina.
Meanwhile, officials at the Department of Industrial Supplies and Consumer Protection say that it is a regular process to call the businessmen for discussion and take action if necessary.