Crusher sector crushed by duty hike

KATHMANDU: Crusher factories have shut down to protest the government´s decision to hike export duty on boulders, stones and sand. They have vowed not to resume operations until the government revokes its decision.

Citing the need for protecting the environment and domestic industry, Finance Minister Surendra Pandey, in his budget speech, had raised export duty on crushed stones by 122 per cent and stone mixture by 185 per cent. Crusher Industry Association president Krishna Prasad Sharma said the increased duty has hit Nepali exports’ competitive edge in the Indian market adding that the budget is not at all encouraging of export-oriented industries.

“The crusher industry has been accused of damaging the environment,” said Sharma adding that the government has tried to shirk its responsibilities by levelling such allegations. He added that investment in the sector stands at about Rs 120 billion whereas there is a total business of about Rs 50 billion by export to India annually.

“Duty hike has sharply increased the cost of doing business and will directly hit exports,” said Narayan Dhakal, president of Nepal Stone-Gravel Industries’ Association, Rupandehi. There are 51 crusher industries in Rupandehi. Export of crushed stones and sand to India through Bhairahawa customs alone was generating Rs 800,000 in revenue everyday. The Rupandehi District Development Committee too generates annual revenue of Rs 150 million from the export of crushed stones, gravel and sand. He added the entrepreneurs will not call off the strike until the decision is revoked.

According to the association, 3500 trippers are used to transport the crushed stones and sands which comprise an investment of about Rs 6 billion. Entrepreneurs charged that contrary to its claims the government wants the crusher industries closed and that is why it has raised the duty. They said that the number of workers in the sectors is over 100,000.