Kathmandu, February 27
As a result of the government’s failure to import sugar on time and intervene in the fluctuations in price of sugar, traders have arbitrarily hiked price of sugar in the domestic market.
Salt Trading Corporation (STC) — the government body responsible to stabilise sugar price — has not been able to import the necessary quantity of sugar on time even though the stock of sugar at its warehouses is depleting. This has encouraged unscrupulous traders to overcharge consumers.
As of today, retailers have been selling sugar at a price between Rs 90 and Rs 95 per kg in the market. A couple of weeks back the retail price of sugar was around Rs 80 per kg.
“STC is involved in the sugar business to stabilise the market and curb malpractices of traders. However, due to the low quantity of sugar with STC at present, we have not been able to supply the desired amount of sugar in the market, which might have encouraged traders to hike the price on their own,” said Urmila Shrestha, director general of STC. She mentioned that the recent hike in sugar price was due to the delay by Ministry of Supplies (MoS) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in allowing STC to import additional quantities of sugar from India.
According to Shrestha, STC has repeatedly written to MoS to do the needful to purchase 50,000 tonnes of sugar from India. However, neither MoS nor MoF have taken any decision to this effect, she informed.
Annually, STC has been purchasing an average of 25,000 tonnes of sugar from India through MoS to stabilise the market price. However, STC had been demanding to import 50,000 metric tonnes from India this year to cope with the possible price hike in the domestic market due to fall in sugar production in India. “The government should take a decision on importing sugar from India as soon as possible as further delays could affect the market more,” she added.
Shrestha informed that MoF has given assurance to pass the proposal to import 50,000 tonnes of sugar from India from the next Cabinet meeting.
As per STC, annual demand of sugar in Nepal is almost 220,000 tonnes.
Surya Prasad Shrestha, spokesperson of MoS, said MoF has been delaying in granting permission to procure sugar. “We have already requested MoF to allocate the necessary budget so that STC can timely import sugar. However, the delay by MoF in taking any decision in this regard has encouraged traders to overcharge customers.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 28, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.