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Monday, April 29, 2019

Government extends quantitative restriction on sugar import till mid-July

Kathmandu, April 29

Under pressure from sugar mill operators, the government has extended the quantitative restriction on sugar import by three months to the end of this fiscal year.

In a bid to limit excessive supply of cheaper foreign sugar in the domestic market, which had lowered the demand of comparatively costly Nepali sugar, the government had fixed a quota on sugar import in September last year till mid- April this year. Under the restriction, traders were allowed to import only around 100,000 tonnes of sugar during this fiscal year till mid-April.

However, a recent meeting of the Council of Ministers decided to continue the quantitative restriction on the sweetener till mid-July.

Meanwhile, the decision to continue quantitative import restriction on sugar has come at a time when Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been saying that sugar mill operators had deceived the government and compelled it to impose such restriction earlier.

“We thought mill operators were sincere when they asked us to impose import restriction citing that a huge chunk of domestic sugar remained unsold due to excessive flow of cheaper sugar. However, mill operators started hoarding sugar and its price sky-rocketed as soon as the limitation on import was imposed,”

Oli had said at a public programme a few weeks ago.

Hence, the government’s decision to extend import restriction on sugar has reflected contradiction within the government towards sugar import issues.

Meanwhile, consumer rights activists have condemned the decision of the government to extend import restriction on sugar and cited that decisions made without proper study will only affect consumers.

“Statistics of the government show that the domestic market demands around 280,000 tonnes of sugar every year while domestic production of the product stands at around 120,000 tonnes. As statistics clearly show that sugar import is crucial to ensure uninterrupted supply-demand, the government should lift the import restriction on sugar,” said Prem Lal Maharjan, president of Consumers’ Right Forum.

As per him, import restriction on sugar will only promote sugar hoarding and encourage its black marketing.

Moreover, sugar mill operators are yet to clear millions of dues to sugarcane farmers though they had convinced the government that the import restriction on sugar would give space to domestic sugar in the market and help sugar mill operators clear farmers’ dues.

Sugar mill operators were reluctant to comment on this issue.

from Business – The Himalayan Times http://bit.ly/2ZI8wYy

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