The officials informing the business community to register their warehouses as per law was just a reminder to those who have yet to show compliance with the law. Undoubtedly, ignorance of the law is no defence. Yet reminding the traders to get such facilities registered, as “The Punjab Registration of Godowns Act 2014” requires, will leave the hoarders with no excuse. Asking the businessmen to act according to the law is indeed a good step to prevent hoarding.

By instructing the business community to enlist their storage facilities, the government will be able to keep a check on the availability of essential commodities. But this does not mean that the hoarders will stop stocking the items of daily use. Enlisting of the storage spaces with the Registering Authority is essentially one of the many steps that the government needs to take to curtail hoarding and other unscrupulous practices.

At the moment however, what we see is not the absence of law but the lack of implementation. The Punjab Registration of Godowns Act 2014 is a comprehensive document that, if implemented, can ensure a regular supply of items in the market. For instance, the Act obligates a warehouse owner to maintain the record of items stored in or removed from the facility. Additionally, the Registering Authority has the power to inspect the documents a trader is required to keep. Lastly, the Act empowers the designated officer to impose penalties on any person who contravenes any of its provisions.

The reason for highlighting salient sections of the said Act was to establish that this legal document gives enormous powers to the designated officers to act against hoarders. Yet commodities’ dearth in the market is a phenomenon we witness with regular frequency. The only thing lacking is the government’s will to implement its writ. If the authorities carry out their duties according to this Act, hoarding and profiteering from the shortage will become quite difficult, if not impossible.