Dashain preparations: Govt to import 20k tonnes of sugar
KATHMANDU, MAY 08 -
The government has begun preparations to import 20,000 tonnes of sugar from India and other countries to meet expected increased demand during the Dashain festival which falls in October.
“The ministry seeks to pre-empt possible shortages by making plans well in advance,” said Deepak Subedi, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS). “The ministry aims to intervene in the market where private traders have a monopoly in a bid to prevent artificial shortages and price hikes.”
Two weeks ago, the MoCS submitted a proposal for import to the Ministry of Finance for its go-ahead. MoCS officials said that after the Finance Ministry gives its approval, the ministry will instruct its agencies Salt Trading and National Trading
to import 10,000 tonnes of sugar each after calling for bids from suppliers in India and third countries. Demand for food products usually doubles during festivals leading to shortages and price hikes.
With growing demand of sugar in Nepali households, there is a huge chance of prices rising during Dashain , said officials. Distribution of sugar by government-owned agencies is expected to control unwarranted price increases and ensure smooth supply.
The government has planned to import sugar even though it has 15,000 tonnes of sugar in its buffer stock as demand shoots up during the festive period straining available supplies. “This buffer stock is meant for local market consumption when any sort of sugar shortage is seen at any time,” added Subedi who is also a joint secretary at the MoCS.
Finance secretary Krishna Hari Baskota said that his ministry sent the MoCS’s proposal to the cabinet a week ago with its recommendation. He added that the Finance Ministry had decided to charge an import duty of only 1 percent on sugar. As per the Customs Act, the usual rate is 15 percent.
During the Dashain festival last year, the Indian government had agreed to supply 20,000 tonnes of sugar at the request of the Nepal government. “This year, however, we will call for international tenders and import sugar from wherever it is most beneficial for us,” said Subedi.
He added that it would be premature to estimate the cost of the sugar that is planned to be imported as it will depend on world price trends.
Posted on: 2012-05-08 09:08