Govt to discourage import of finished agro goods
Kathmandu, May 22
The budget for next fiscal will discourage the import of agro-based products like rice, flour, pulses and edible oil, among others. Traders will have to import paddy, wheat, mustard, lentils in bulk quantity and process them in the country.
The government wants maximum value addition on imports in the economy, according to sources at the Ministry of Finance (MoF). “This will create job opportunities, provide opportunity to the ancillary industries (packaging) to grow and also promote domestic brands.”
There is domination of foreign brands in sales of rice, flour, pulses and edible oil, among others, as the import of finished products is cheaper due to low customs duty. “The government will raise customs duty on such finished products,” a high-level official of the Revenue Division under MoF told The Himalayan Times.
It is reported that Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada believes that the rampant import of cheaper agro products is gradually distorting the agriculture production base of the country. “This policy of the government is expected to boost the agro processing industries, as traders will invest in agro processing industries,” the official reiterated.
“The government will launch special programmes to substitute the import of milk, dairy products and meat through the next fiscal budget.”
Import of aforementioned agro products has been increasing every passing year. According to Nepal Rastra Bank's Macro Economic Outlook of the first nine months of this fiscal, the country imported rice worth Rs 21.56 billion, which was a 16 per cent growth compared to Rs 18.52 billion worth of imports in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.
Likewise, import of crude soyabean oil stood at Rs 11.52 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal.
The government will bring a policy to discourage the import of finished products to the possible extent based on the capacity and competitiveness of the industries here. The government's Policies and Programmes on Monday announced the government's plan to be self-reliant in sugar, leather footwear, cement and pharmaceuticals. By enhancing the competitiveness of the industries, the government will encourage the domestic cement producers to export their products, as per the Policies and Programmes of the government.
It is reported that the government will protect a dozen domestic industries that have competitive edge, including readymade garments.
“The finance minister has asked the private sector umbrella body to recommend a dozen industries that can create maximum value addition in the economy and can be competitive,” according to Shekhar Golchha, senior vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). “Low investment is the major bottleneck for industrial sector growth and if the industrial sector gets assurance regarding protection of their investment, they will make fresh investments in the priority sectors of the government.”
The government's Policies and Programmes has laid emphasis on enhancing the competitiveness of other export-oriented industries like jute, carpet, yarn and handicraft products, among others.