Warehouse rental fee leaves Salt Trading in the redThe government’s decision to impose quantitative restriction on sugar imports has caused the Salt Trading Corporation to incur heavy losses as its warehouse rental alone amounted to Rs25.5 million as of the first week of December.
The government’s decision to impose quantitative restriction on sugar imports has caused the Salt Trading Corporation to incur heavy losses as its warehouse rental alone amounted to Rs25.5 million as of the first week of December.
More than 2,500 tonnes of sugar imported by the corporation targeting the Dashain, Tihar and Chhat festivals have been lying idle at the Dry Port in Sirsiya, Birgunj since September 22.
On September 17, the government imposed quantitative restriction on imported sugar. It had set an import quota of 94,000 tonnes for this fiscal year in a bid to facilitate domestic sugar producers to clear their stock and help sugarcane farmers get timely payment for their sugarcane. Following the government decision, the customs office in Birgunj refused to provide clearance to the corporation to supply sugar out of the warehouse.
The corporation had purchased sugar from Renuka Sugar Mills in West Bangal of India. Animesh Kumar, information officer and chief of the finance department of Himalayan Terminal, which operates and manages the dry port in Birgunj, said that the rental would gradually increase if the stocks are not cleared.
The terminal does not charge rent on goods if it is stored for less than five days.
After that, from five to 10 days, the warehouse rental fee is Rs77 per tonne daily. Similarly, from 11 to 20 days, charges amount to Rs99 per tonne and Rs157 per tonne after 21 days and increases accordingly.
Currently, the corporation pays Rs247,000 as warehouse rental per day. Besides the rental fee, the corporation pays another Rs333,350 as terminal handling charge.
Amoj Lamichhane, chief of the zonal office of the corporation in Birgunj, said they have been asking the head office in Kathmandu to resolve the issue and even wrote to the ministry. He said that they received assurance many times from the government that the issue would be sorted out within a few days.
The corporation had purchased 5,000 tonnes of sugar from the Indian company through a global tender last year.
It was supposed to import sugar last August. However, due to unavailability of railway rakes, the consignment moved to Nepal from the Haldia Port in India only on September 8.
It had already supplied the first consignment of 2,500 tonnes of sugar.
The corporation imports huge amount of sugar to sell at subsidised rate targeting festivals shoppers.
Since last year, the government doubled the customs duty on sugar import to 30 percent to protect domestic sugar producers.
In 2016-17, Nepal imported 56,100 tonnes of sugar worth Rs3.68 billion. A total of 106,200 tonnes of sugar worth Rs5.72 billion was imported in the last fiscal year.