March 18: Panic shopping across the world due to the fear of the deadly coronavirus pandemic has led to the government to step up measures to ensure smooth supply of daily essentials in the market. The government has said it is well aware of the possible impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain and has assured the general public that it has taken measures to curb black marketing and artificial shortage in the market.
In this regard, the government has decided to run fair-price shops in order to make daily essentials easily available for the general public at affordable rates. In the past, the government used to run such shops during festive seasons to discourage black marketing.
This time, the government has decided to open fair-price shops to avert any crisis due to the fear of the coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to more than 143 countries across the world and claimed over 6500 lives.
Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Lekhraj Bhatta pledged to avert any possible crisis in the supply chain of the daily essentials.
He made such commitment during a meeting of the Industry, Commerce, Labour and Consumers Welfare Committee of the Federal Parliament on Tuesday (March 17).
Minister Bhatta shared that preparations were underway for running fair-price shops through the mobilization of government mechanisms in an attempt to make the daily essentials easily accessible. But he did not mention the date from when such shops will come into operation.
According to Minister Bhatta, the Salt Trading Corporation and the Food Management and Trading Company Limited are preparing to run such fair-price shops and the daily essentials would be supplied to the people through mobile vans.
“We have notices artificial shortage of daily essentials in Kathmandu and some hill districts. So we will operate fair-price shops in these areas and also distribute goods through mobile shops,” Minister Bhatta told New Business Age.
Minister Bhatta also said that the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies is coordinating with the Ministry of Home Affairs to curb black marketing of essential goods.
He said that the government would strictly control black marketing and scale up market monitoring in all 77 districts under the coordination of the chief district officers.
Minister Bhatta further said that the government has also mobilized police personnel in plain clothes for market monitoring.
“We cannot become lenient towards those who take advantage during time of crisis. Those who are involved in black marketing and price hike will be strictly dealt with,” he said.
The minister also stated that the people have started panic shopping due to the fear of shortage of goods. This has further led to the shortage of essentials in the market.