Supreme Court vacates earlier stay order on sugar import duty

Kathmandu, June 4

Supreme Court (SC) today ruled that the government can impose 30 per cent customs duty on sugar import.

Vacating its earlier stay order, which barred the government from implementing Cabinet's decision to increase import duty on sugar to 30 per cent, SC bench of Deepak Kumar Karki and Ananda Mohan Bhattarai today paved way for government to implement new customs duty on sugar import.

On April 17, the Cabinet had decided to increase the customs duty on sugar import to 30 per cent from 15 per cent ‘to facilitate sugarcane farmers and sugar mill operators' amid increasing flow of cheaper imported sugar in the local market.

However, the apex court stayed the government's decision on May 13 in response to a writ petition filed by Naresh Dugar of Dugar Group, against the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Finance, Rani Customs Office and others.

The petitioner had stated that the decision to hike import duty on sugar was untimely as he had imported 5,200 metric tonnes of sugar from Mirpurkhas Sugar Mills Ltd of Pakistan between February 28 and April 15, and the shipment had already reached Biratnagar Customs Office. He had said also he had already paid customs duty for 5,200 metric tonnes of sugar and customs office had already checked shipment of 4,628 metric tonnes.

However, SC today said the government's decision to increase import duty on sugar was logical and necessary to facilitate domestic sugarcane farmers and sugar mills.

“Uncontrolled import of low cost sugar from different countries seems to be adversely affecting Nepali entrepreneurs. This will also impede growth of sugarcane industry of Nepal and make Nepali products uncompetitive,” said a source at SC.

Meanwhile, both sugar mill operators and sugarcane farmers have welcomed the decision of the SC.