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Govt asks sugar mill owners to announce due payment timeline



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By Laxman Kafle
Kathmandu, Dec. 15: The government has taken initiative, again, to resolve the recurring problem of sugarcane farmers who are compelled to stage protest demanding payment of dues from the sugar mills.
On the second day of sugarcane farmers' agitation at Maitighar Mandala, Kathmandu, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply called on the owners of sugar mills to negotiate payment to the farmers.
“We held discussions with the owners of sugar mills in the presence of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Lekhraj Bhatta Monday,” said Dr. Narayan Prasad Regmi, spokesperson of the Ministry.
The owners of three sugar mills, including Annapurna, Indira and Sri Ram, were present at the meeting while the owner of Lumbini Sugar Mill did not attend the meeting.
Sugarcane farmers have started staging protest demanding due pays from the sugar mills from Sunday.
They have demanded immediate payment of their dues and implementation of the earlier agreement reached between government and the sugarcane farmers, he said.
Almost a year ago, the government and the agitating sugarcane farmers had signed a five-point agreement to address the problems of sugarcane farmers.
However, some sugar mills have not yet cleared the dues of the farmers even though the government exerted pressure on the sugar mills to clear them.
During the meeting, Minister Bhatta asked the sugar mills to pay the dues to the farmers at the earliest citing that the mill owners had been lingering to clear them.
He said that the government would take legal action against those mill owners who were lingering to pay
dues even a year after they committed to do so.
“We asked the owners to take steps to address the problems of sugarcane farmers and announce timeline to pay their dues at the earliest,” Regmi told The Rising Nepal.
During the meeting, sugar mill owners said that they had cleared large chunks of dues to many farmers and had to pay some others, adding the process for payment was in progress.
The sugar mills have to pay Rs. 900 million to the farmers, he said.
Regmi said that the ministry would talk to the farmers and play a proactive role to resolve the problems. “Today, I called the representatives of agitating farmers to come for dialogue but they did not come,” he said.
According to him, he asked them to come with the list of farmers who were to get money from the sugar mills.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has claimed that it has released all subsidy amount of last year to be provided to the sugarcane farmers.
The Ministry has already sent about of Rs. 950 million to the District Treasury and Controller Offices of the concerned districts to distribute to the sugarcane farmers, said Dr. Yogendra Kumar Karki, secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
He informed that out of total released amount, District Treasury and Controller Officers have distributed around Rs. 920 million out of total released amount of Rs. 950 million. “We are coordinating with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies to resolve the problems of sugarcane farmers and the sugar mills,” he said.
Talking about the minimum support price of sugarcane fixed by the farmers, he said that the government would fix the minimum price of sugarcane in scientific manner so that the farmers would recover the cost of production and be encouraged towards sugarcane farming.
He expressed his hope that the farmers would be happy if they received their dues and got money in time after selling their products.