The local administration’s plan to set uniform prices of foods served by hotels and restaurants along the Prithvi Highway has landed in controversy.
The administration had last month issued directives to the hotels and restaurants to reduce their menu prices by 20-25 percent and set uniform prices, following complaints the eateries had been overcharging travellers.
However, hotel and restaurant owners have said the administration’s move is aimed at regulating hoteliers only. “It’s unfair to force the hotels and restaurants to cut their menu prices. The move is aimed at displacing us,” said Raj Kumar Pyakurel, president of District Hotel Entrepreneurs Association.
There are more than 600 tourist-standard hotels and restaurants along the 83km Jogimara-Naubise section of the Highway in Dhading.
More than 32,000 vehicles ply on the road daily and at least half of the passengers in the vehicles eat food in these hotels as per our initial study, said Rajendra Basnet, district field coordinator of the Food Rights and Safety Network.
Government market monitoring teams have time and again found the hotels selling substandard foods and not maintaining cleanliness.
“We object the administration’s move. Instead of monitoring food quality and safety, it has been pressing us to reduce prices,” said Hari Saran Pandey, proprietor of Chitwan Hotel at Salang Ghat.
The hotel operators said the unilateral decision was imposed without proper consultations with consumer rights activists, civil society members and regional hotels associations.
“The hotels sharply increased the prices immediately after India imposed a trade embargo on Nepal. The existing prices are more than double the prices two years ago,” said Nanda Lal Sharma, officer at the District Administration Office.
A panel formed to set uniform prices of foods had issued directives to the hotels to reduce the price of a plate of vegetarian meal to Rs120 from Rs150 and non-vegetarian food to Rs200 from Rs250.
Source: The Kathmandu Post