The chicken and egg question is here again. The season of festivals is at our doors. But the mood—nationwide—is bleak.

The pandemic is a reality that is being used as an excuse far too often. Why must there be a sudden shortage of eggs, for example?

The office of consumer protection (OCP) finds it easy to maintain that demand and supply of commodities should dictate the prices in the market.

OCP, established in 2014, must aspire to grow beyond disseminating information and educating consumers on the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) of Bhutan in 2012 if it is to fulfil its true mandate—to protect consumers from unfair trade practices.

Instances of food adulteration, excessively high costs, counterfeit products, defective services, inaccurate weights and measurements, deceptive advertisement, misleading representation of products and services, and hazardous products are growing—which are within the purview of OCP.

There is a break in a chain of “unfortunately” duplicated responsibility among the government offices and agencies. When the banned chillies from India can come right at the door of the capital city, what’s BAFRA doing?

When such deceitful acts are successful—clearly with the help of officials responsible to stop such practices—why must innocent consumers pay?

Bhutan is egg sufficient—reports have been telling us so for a long, long time. If the recent issue related to Karma Feed is the main cause of egg shortage in the country, it is like believing we have enough water when villages are going dry.

The other name of shortage is greed. Vendors are busy hoarding eggs and chilies to jack up prices as festivals approach. But, painfully, OCP says that is the market force.

No—even basic economics is much more than this; and we are talking about production, trade, and export. If we let duplication of responsibilities, inaction, and corruption grow among government offices, agencies, and officials, more particularly in respect of the essentials, we will always face this problem.

Chicken and egg again? No.

Breaking this corrupt chain—from farmers up to ministers—can only solve the issue of shortages, particularly in homegrown food items.

Price of almost everything has grown drastically in the market. We have made so light about our food self-sufficiency dream. The way things are going, we will never produce enough—we will never have enough.

Should we still put up and be complacent with OCP saying the answer lies in the market forces? If so, why do we even need OCP?