KATHMANDU, June 19: Sugar mills that have been delaying payment to sugarcane producers are next in line to face action from Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, according to the ministry.
Minister Thapa has decided to take action against sugar mills that are not paying farmers as well as cane crushers running without meeting standards, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Failing to enforce his own decision to make sugar mills pay the dues of cane farmers, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Prasad Yadav had asked the home ministry for help.
After meeting Yadav, Thapa decided to instruct all chief district officers (CDOs) of the central and western tarai region to summon owners of sugar mills and ask them to arrange payments immediately.
“The CDOs are also asked to provide the names of sugar mills that are denying to make payments and the due amounts within seven days,” according to the press statement.
Thousands of sugarcane farmers of Sunsari, Siraha, Sarlhai, Bara, Parsa and Nawalparasi districts have received no or only partial payments from the sugar mills.
Minister Thapa has also directed the district administration offices to assess standards of cane crushers in the districts in coordination with other concerned authorities including local level units, and send reports within five days to the ministry.
Thapa has already successfully ended, to an extent, the transport syndicates across the country and has tightened grip on civil contractors who used to leave their project works incomplete putting development works in jeopardy.
The minister's attention has now been drawn toward the sugar mills that are earning profits but not making due payments to the farmers. Last week, Thapa also pledged to control electricity theft by coordinating with officials of Nepal Electricity Authority.
The sugar mills not paying the farmers had submitted their schedules of payments to minister Yadav following arrest of few sugar mill officials and warnings issued by Minister Yadav. However, these mills did not oblige to their own payment schedules.
To protect the domestic sugar mills, the government had hiked customs tax to 30 percent from 15 percent. But despite the government's move to make the sugar prices profitable for the mills, they have not reciprocated by making timely payments to the farmers.