June 23: Increase in prices of petroleum products is certain to cause inflation in the market as it results in rise in the transportation cost that causes a chain reaction. However, businessmen have started fixing prices of goods arbitrarily taking advantage of the hike in fuel prices.
Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) had increased the price of petrol by Rs 21 per liter and the price of diesel and kerosene by Rs 27 per litre on Sunday night. Following the decision of NOC to hike fuel prices, the Department of Transport Management increased the inter-state transportation fare through automatic pricing mechanism. Passenger and cargo vehicles have increased the fare by 5.3 percent to 7 percent.
After the department increased the transportation cost on Monday, businessmen started increasing the prices of daily essentials at their whims from the very next day. The businessmen have been accused of increasing the prices of goods that were kept as stock since the last two to three months.
The Nepal Retailers Association has fixed the price of sugar at Rs 105 per kilogram. However, it has been found that sugar is being sold in the market for as much as Rs 110 per kg.
Red lentil which costs Rs 175 per kg in the retail market was found to be sold at Rs 180 per kg. Likewise, mustard oil, which costs Rs 280 per litre was found to be sold at Rs 385 to Rs 390 per litre.
Sharmila Gautam, who visited the Kalimati market to purchase daily essentials, told New Business Age that she bought a litre of soybean oil at Rs 340. The retail price of soybean oil is Rs 330 per litre.
“We don’t know the market price. When we asked the reason behind skyrocketing price, the businessmen say it is due to the increase in price of fuel,” she said.
She is just a representative case of people being duped by the businessmen.
Rupesh Basnet purchased sunflower oil at Rs 360 per litre a few days ago although the retail price is Rs 350 per litre. Besides oil, flour, rice and sugar, the prices of vegetables have also skyrocketed in recent days.
According to the price list of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market, the price of a kilogram of tomato has increased from Rs 30 to Rs 60. Likewise, the price of bitter gourd has increased from Rs 50 per kg to Rs 80 per kg. Similarly, the price of ladies finger has increased from Rs 40 per kg to Rs 60 per kg and the list goes on.
General Secretary of Nepal Retailers Association Amul Kaji Tuladhar says that the association has not received any complaint in the regard so far. However, he said that it is not right to increase the prices of essential goods a day after the rise in fuel prices. “Such malpractice must be stopped,” said Tuladhar, adding, “It is not appropriate because the businessmen have stock of goods which they cannot increase overnight citing price hike or the Russian-Ukraine war.”
The Industry, Supply and Consumer Protection Department claims that it has doubled market monitoring in the last few months. Director General of the department Lila Prasad Sharma says that ten out of 40 employees of the department have been regularly monitoring the market and have not left any room for lapses.
However, consumer rights activists say that the businessmen are fixing prices in the market arbitrarily due to ineffective market monitoring by the department.