By Laxman Kafle
Kathmandu, Mar. 25: The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has said that the government had managed the supply of essential goods in the market for the lockdown period that began from Tuesday morning.
The government Monday decided to clamp a lockdown across the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after the second person infected with virus was traced in Nepal Monday.
Issuing a press statement, the Ministry Tuesday urged the concerned stakeholders to run the shops and sales counters of essential commodities, including food items such as vegetables, fruit and milk, medicines and medicines related products and cooking gas.
“We just request the producers, suppliers and distributors to run their respective business during the period of lockdown to arrange the supply of everyday goods in the market. But they must be safe,” said Prakash Dahal, spokesperson of the Ministry.
This lockdown was not enforced for the traders and the government was not in the position to take action immediately against them if they were unable to open the shops of essential commodities, he told The Rising Nepal.
He said that the vehicles carrying essential consumer goods, including medicines, cereals, vegetables, fruits and petroleum products along with liquefied petroleum gas could transport these goods smoothly even during the lockdown.
However, it suggested the workers of those shops and transportation vehicles to use mask and hand sanitizer to keep themselves safe from COVID-19.
The Ministry said that the sales outlets run by Food Management and Trading Company Limited and Salt Trading Corporation would be in smooth operation even during the lockdown as the government had already directed them in this regard.
He said that the government would supply goods through the mobile shops run by the state-owned enterprises---FMTC and the STC ---if felt necessary.
The Ministry said that big traders which were selling commodities through chain stores such as Bhatbhotini Supermarket, Bigmart and Sales Barry could sell the goods regularly from the counters and manage to deliver goods to the homes of their customers.
The government would manage for operating limited number of petrol pumps in necessary places with the coordination of the Chief District Officer of the concerned places, read the press statement. The NOC would supply petroleum products to the dealers by deploying the necessary staff members in the depots.
The Ministry said that the government would take actions as per the law against the traders who tend to increase price of goods by creating artificial shortage in the market.
Meanwhile, the government has urged both the state-owned and private industries which are producing essential goods, including medicines, health equipment, foods items, drinking water, milk and fuel industries to run their industries in full capacity.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies also asked for proper management to supply produced goods in the market as the government has allowed for transporting these goods even during the lockdown, he said.
Spokesman at the ministry Dahal urged these industries to keep maximum stock of necessary raw materials to make the supply smooth in the market.
The industries run by the private and state-owned entities, which are producing goods except essential ones, should provide leave to the workers over the period of lockdown, he said.
The Ministry urged the umbrella organisations of private sector such as Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Nepalese Industry and Nepal Chamber of Commerce to facilitate their members industries to operate smoothly.
The Ministry requested the industries to inform Joint Secretary at the Ministry Prakash Dahal calling on personal mobile number --- 9851184526 --- if they faced difficulties in following the government direction.
In the meantime, our Nepalgunj Correspondent adds: the supply of essential goods and petroleum products from India continues even though the border point remains sealed to prevent cross-border movement of people in an attempt to prevent the entry of the coronavirus.
According to Shanti Ram Niraula, chief of Nepalgunj Customs Office, 881 metric tonnes of rice, 245 metric tonnes of maize and 814 metric tonnes of soybean has entered Nepal in the las 48 hours.
He informed that during the same period 952 kiloletres of diesel, 500 kiloletres of petrol, and 222 metric tonnes of liquid petroleum gas had entered the country and assured that there would be no shortage of essential goods in the market.