BHAIRAHAWA, Oct 8: The ban imposed by the government on the import of sugar ahead of Dashain, the biggest festival of the Hindus in Nepal, has disappointed people who reached Sunauli, a border town across Bhairahawa, to buy household goods, especially sugar, for comparatively cheaper price.
The government reportedly took the decision to ban sugar import in a bid to promote domestic products and to sell the stored sugar.
In Bhairahawa, the price of 1 kg sugar ranges from Rs 70-75. However, in the Indian market of Sunauli, the price ranges from Rs 50-60 per kg. Considering the massive requirement of sugar during the festivals, consumers have been greatly disappointed as they cannot even import a few kilograms of sugar.
Bhairahawa Customs Office imposed the ban after receiving a letter from the Ministry of Commerce. Security forces deployed at the border area have been returning sugar back if found.
During his recent visit to Rupandehi, Finance Minister Yuva Raj Khatiwada directed the customs office to strictly enforce the ban on import of sugar. He argued that the sugar bought from India or other countries has threatened the existence of Nepali sugar industries.
Though the government enforced the ban, it has not been able to provide sugar at relatively cheaper rate. This has irked the locals. The shopkeepers who had bought sugar at lower rates have started taking advantage of the situation.
Currently, sugar from Pakistan, Brazil, India and Nepal is sold in the markets of Bhairahawa. The price of sugar imported from Pakistan is Rs 62 per kg while the sugar imported from Brazil is Rs 60. Despite the availability sugar from abroad, not many people are aware about it.
Kul Prasad Neupane, chairperson of Siddhartha Chamber of Commerce and Industries, stated that the government's decision would be fair only if it would be able to provide sugar at lower rate.
Meanwhile, Laxman Baidwar, chairperson of Consumers Forum Nepal, said that the government posed a serious problem for the consumers by prohibiting the import of sugar ahead of Dashain. He accused the government for encouraging black market with the decision.