Kathmandu, January 22
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has decided to partially freeze the bank accounts of three sugar mills whose owners have gone out of contact while still owing millions of rupees to sugarcane farmers.
Speaking at a press meet here today, MoICS Joint Secretary Dinesh Bhattarai said financial transactions of three mills — Annapurna Sugar and General Enterprises, Indira Sugar and Agro Enterprises and Lumbini Sugar Industry — except the amount owed to farmers, would be frozen till they cleared their dues. “We have already sent letters to the authorities concerned to do the needful.”
According to Bhattarai, Annapurna Sugar and General Enterprises has only cleared Rs 39 million of Rs 420 million owed to farmers. Similarly, Indira Sugar and Agro Enterprises has paid only Rs 7.4 million of the Rs 100 million in dues. The ministry has no data on the amount owed by Lumbini Sugar Industry as its proprietor Rakesh Kumar Goyal has passed away.
“We have initiated action against three mill owners as they have gone out of contact,” Bhattarai clarified, adding that the MoICS had sought support of Ministry of Home Affairs to locate Rakesh Kumar Agrawal, proprietor of Annapurna Sugar Mill.
While Mahalaxmi Sugar Pvt Ltd has paid only Rs 115 million of the Rs 214 million in dues, it is in contact with farmers and has committed to pay outstanding dues. So, the ministry will not take action against it.
Also, Shree Ram Sugar Mills has reached agreement with farmers that it will sell its land to clear outstanding dues of Rs 267 million.
Owners of three other sugar mills — Baba Baijunath Sugar Industry, Bagmati Khandsari Sugar Mills and Mahakali Sugar Enterprises — are also out of contact and the ministry will decide what to do with them soon, Bhattarai informed.
Himalaya Sugar Mills, Indu Shankar Sugar Industry, Eastern Sugar Mills and Bhageshowor Sugar enterprises cleared their dues within the given deadline of January 21. Reliance Sugar and Chemicals and Everest Sugar and Chemicals have also cleared dues to farmers who have bank accounts.
Meanwhile, subsidy amount worth Rs 230 million released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has been distributed in five districts — Sunsari, Siraha, Bara, Nawalparasi and Kanchanpur.
Subsidy distribution was delayed due to the administrative processes of the respective local governments, according to Bhattarai. Of the total subsidy amount of Rs 1.32 billion, the Ministry of Finance is yet to release Rs 810 million.
A version of this article appears in print on January 23, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.