MoCS wants Rs 35 million to supply subsidized items during festivals
KATHMANDU, Aug 25: The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) is preparing to ask the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for Rs 35 million in an effort to provide essential commodities at subsidized prices to the general public during the upcoming festive season.
The MoCS is demanding the amount so as to provide it directly to the concerned state-owned enterprises that are charged with providing the essential commodities - rice, sugar and salt at subsidized prices.
In the past, the state undertaking had suffered huge losses while following government directions to provide the food items at subsidies rate.
“We are trying to dispatch the subsidy directly to the concerned corporations as they suffered heavy losses while providing subsidized salt, sugar and rice to general public during the major festivals last year,” Deepak Subedi, joint secretary at the MoCS told Republica on Saturday.
He said the government would provide the subsidy amount to National Trading Ltd (NTL), Salt Trading Corporation (STC) and Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) to make available rice, salt and sugar cheaper by Rs 5 , Rs 2 and Rs 5 per kg compared to normal market price.
Indra Situala, a senior official of NFC said the state-owned food supplier alone had suffered Rs 29.3 million while trading rice and goats from its five outlets in the Kathmandu valley during the Dashain and Tihar festivals.
According to Gopal Ghimire, chief of distribution division for Kathmandu valley, NTL suffered around Rs 2.4 million while dealing with sugar during the festivals. STC had also suffered a loss while running fair price outlets for sugar and salt in the capital and other places of the country.
“Though the amount to be proposed for subsidy is not sufficient compared to the loss reported by those corporations, it will definitely help send a message that the government is intervening to discourage possible black marketeering by private players during the major festivals such as Dashain and Tihar,” said Subedi.
According to him, struggling NTL is preparing to import 5,000 tons of sugar and STC adding 12,500 tons of sugar to its existing stock of 2,500 tons targeting upcoming festivals. NFC has maintained 200,000 tons of rice stock to intervene during the high consumption season.
The ailing NTL is making final preparation to secure loan worth Rs 360 million from an Indian joint-venture bank.
The government has already decided to allow STC and NTL to procure 15,000 tons and 5,000 tons of sugar at one percent customs duty under the condition that the imports should be completed by the end of September.