Owing to the enforcement of import restriction on sugar by the government, almost 2,500 tonnes of sugar imported by the Salt Trading Corporation (STC) has been stalled at the Dry Port Office in Sirsiya, Birgunj since months.
With an objective to control excessive supply of cheaper foreign sugar in the domestic market, the government had set import quota of 94,000 tonnes on sugar on September 17 for this fiscal year. The sugar imported by STC has thus not received clearance from the dry port as its sugar arrived at the dry port a week after the import restriction was imposed.
“Going with the direction of the government, we are not in a position to give clearance to STC’s sugar,” informed Umesh Shrestha, chief of the Dry Port Office in Sirsiya, adding that the office has sought direction on releasing STC’s sugar from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS).
As per Shrestha, the government had directed the dry port office to give clearance only to sugar consignments that had arrived at the dry port till September 17.
STC officials have acknowledged that the aforementioned quantity of sugar arrived after the government’s quantitative restriction on sugar
import, adding that the delay in giving clearance to the sugar has been adding financial pressure on STC and could affect supply-demand situation of sugar in the market.
“We have asked MoICS to facilitate this issue though we are yet to get any response on it,” said Urmila Shrestha, chief executive officer at STC.
Following delay in clearance of the sugar, STC is obliged to pay various charges at the dry port.
Under its plan to ease the festive market, STC had decided to import 5,000 tonnes of sugar in the last week of August from Renuka Sugar Mills in West Bengal of India. The Indian company has already supplied the first consignment of 2,500 tonnes of sugar to STC.
The government’s decision to impose quantitative restriction on sugar import primarily intended to facilitate sugar mills to clear their stock and help sugarcane farmers get timely payment for their sugarcane.
However, the government has been facing questions on the relevance of this decision from various quarters lately. “Such restrictions have to be imposed only after determining the actual production capacity of the country and the domestic demand. Government lacks real statistics of sugar production and its demand in Nepal,” said Hridayesh Tripathi, a lawmaker.