KATHMANDU, Oct 12: A sub-committee formed by the parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has concluded that various government officials and sugar mills had acted colluded to artificially drive up the price of sugar in the market.
The sub-committee formed to look into the rising commodity prices including that of sugar ahead of the Dashain festival has also recommended to the PAC to instruct the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to investigate into the 'collusion' between government officials and sugar mills.
Although the sub-committee has not named any ministry or officials in the 'collusion', it is apparent that the blame lies with the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Matrika Yadav.
“..Instead of implementing the agreement reached between the sugar mills and the government on September 6, there was a direct role in fixing the price of sugar at Rs 70 per kg,” read a recommendation in the report of the sub-committee. “There was an extensive collusion to increase the sugar price, therefore the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority should be instructed for a broad investigation into the matter,” the report added.
Minister Yadav has already dismissed such allegations by organizing a press conference last week. He also wrote to Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, seeking action against the lawmakers who made 'baseless accusations' against him.
The sub-committee found a 'collusion' after the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies last week fixed the price of sugar at Rs 70 even though the sugar mills had reportedly agreed to limit the price at Rs 63 per kg if the government imposed a quantitative restriction on the import of sugar.
At the request of Nepali sugar mills, the government on September 17 fixed sugar import quota for the current fiscal year at 100,000 tons. The import restriction aimed at protecting the Nepali sugar industry and providing domestic production an easy access to the market has instead driven up the price of sugar in the market. Many groceries were found to be charging up to Rs 80 for a kilo of sugar after the import restriction was imposed. The price before the restriction was Rs 60.