‘Book mills for delay in clearing dues’

Kathmandu, December 30

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, has urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to take action against sugar mill operators who have not cleared payments of cane farmers since long.

The MoICS urged MoHA to take action against sugar mill operators who were not only delaying payments to sugarcane farmers but were also reluctant to come in contact with farmers and the government. “A letter has been sent to MoHA to do the needful, as a few sugar mill operators had been intentionally delaying payments to cane farmers since long and were not meeting them,” Hari Bahadur KC, spokesperson for MoALD, told THT.

Cane farmers from across the country have gathered in the capital and have been staging protests against the delayed payment of outstanding dues. They have been organising protests in Maitighar for the past couple of days, alleging that sugar mills had not cleared Rs 1.5 billion they owed to farmers. They approached the Industry, Commerce, Labour and Consumer Interest Committee of the Parliament today, urging it to facilitate the process of getting their dues cleared.

“As the crushing of new sugarcanes will begin soon, farmers are not in a position to start harvesting their produce until sugar mills clear the pending dues. Some sugar mill operators have not cleared millions of rupees they owe to farmers and are refusing to meet them,” said Kapil Muni Mainali, president of Nepal Sugarcane Producers Federation.

Addressing a meeting of the parliamentary committee today, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development Ghanashyam Bhusal acknowledged that sugar mills were not clearing payment to cane farmers on time and some sugar mill operators were not even in contact with the government. Annapurna Sugar Mill and Maha Laxmi Sugar Mill have not cleared Rs 500 million and Rs 210 million, respectively, he added.

Meanwhile, Kedarnath Sharma, spokesperson for MoHA, said the trend of ministries not accomplishing their duties and leaving everything to the home ministry was unfortunate.

“We have received the letter from MoICS and will address their concerns. However, it is first the responsibility of MoALD and MoICS to ensure that farmers get payment on time,” he said.

Earlier today, the House committee meeting had also directed the government to make sure that cane farmers received payments for their produce from sugar mills on time. The committee has asked the government to not only make sugar mills clear outstanding dues of sugarcane farmers but also take action against the sugar factories and owners delaying the payments.