Caretaker prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai today reiterated that the government will provide relief to consumers during festivals.
In a yearly review meeting of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, he directed the ministry to control rampant price hike and monitor the market effectively.
Earlier too, he had promised to provide relief but failed to walk the talk.
Bhattarai directed concerned government authorities to effectively monitor the market to control inflation. "The regulatory bodies should be careful about black marketing, and inflated price of food items and other commodities because the festival season is approaching, an official at the ministry quoted him as saying.
The primary duty of the government is not to supply goods to consumers but to ensure effective public service delivery by enhancing the capacity of the regulatory mechanism, Bhattarai said. “The existing mechanism has been failing to regulate the market and there is artificial inflation at present,” he said.
Bhattarai also urged all concerned officials to maintain sufficient stock of food items and other commodities so that consumers are able to avail all commodities easily during festivals. He further directed the officials to formulate a separate action plan for the smooth supply of commodities.
However, there is much speculation on the implementation of his directives. The Bhattarai-led government had, in September last year, unveiled the 'Immediate Relief Package'. The package was focused on effective security system, good governance and control over the price of consumer goods along with others. However, the government could not translate its promises into words throughout the year.
Prime minister Bhattarai also raised the issue of trade deficit. Widening trade deficit is a big challenge to the country, he said, asking the ministry to bring a special programme to promote exports. The government will bring a policy to encourage the export of value added goods, he said, asking the ministry to prepare a separate plan to encourage exports.
Meanwhile, Bhattarai said that the management of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) is inefficient in tackling the problems of the petroleum sector. Speaking at a review meeting of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, he said that the current management at NOC is focused only in asking for loans but not in introducing a proper business plan. NOC is operating without a business plan, he said, adding that its management should act proactively and in a planned manner to address the various problems dogging the petroleum sector.