In a resolute move to tackle soaring food prices and combat hoarding practices, the Government of Himachal Pradesh has reintroduced the Margin Profit and Hoarding Act 1977. With this landmark decision, Himachal Pradesh becomes the pioneer state in the country to implement such a crucial piece of legislation. The new regulations ensure that traders cannot sell food grains above a predetermined margin, while also mandating the acquisition of licenses for purchasing and stocking food grains beyond specified quantities.
The Food Supply Department has already issued a notification to enforce these measures, which are poised to exert control over prices across various commodities and put an end to clandestine market activities. Under the Act, traders are required to display comprehensive rate lists for all items sold at their establishments. The legislation establishes a fixed margin of seven per cent for retail sales of cereals, pulses, and sugar. The responsibility for determining this margin lies with the district administration, allowing for flexibility within the range of two to five per cent for wholesale transactions and two to ten per cent for retail transactions.
While the Act represents a significant stride towards fair pricing and market transparency, it has met with resistance from business organizations based in Shimla. Traders argued that the Act’s implementation comes at a time when the retail landscape has undergone considerable transformation. The proliferation of retail shops and the advent of online marketplaces have diminished the ability of shopkeepers to levy additional charges on customers.
Traders argued that the licensing requirement for exceeding prescribed quantities and the fixed margin condition are imposing undue burdens on their operations.
Questioning the necessity of implementing such stringent measures, traders emphasized that the current market scenario does not indicate any shortage of food grains. In response, business representatives plan to engage in dialogue with the Chief Minister to convey their concerns and urge reconsideration of the decision.