Thursday, 18 July, 2024

Delayed Payments

A bitter episode about the producers of a sweet product is reportedly dragging as three sugar mills have failed to clear their dues to sugarcane farmers. The grievances of the sugarcane growers came to the attention of the government after the unpaid farmers came to the capital to vent their ire against the sugar mill owners. After hearing the genuine complaints, the government reached a deal with the concerned farmers on January 3 to make sure that the mill owners pay back their dues to the farmers. These farmers are compelled to go through bitter-sweet experiences time and again as some proprietors of sugar mills are still foot dragging to pay farmers their dues. Following the five-point deal with the government, some sugar mill owners have cleared their dues which is a positive development. However, some others are still showing slow tendency to make the payments.

The Department of Industry is making continuous follow-up of the due clearance deal. As per the information provided by the department, at least three sugar mills have not paid the dues to the sugarcane farmers. The slow acting sugar mills include Shree Ram Sugar Mill, Lumbini Sugar Industry and Bagmati Khadsari Sugar Mills. Let us hope that the bitter experience of the sugarcane farmers will have a happy ending as the government has made its necessary intervention to make sure that the farmers get the pending payments paid. As per a news report carried by this daily, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has been constantly mediating between the sugar mill proprietors and sugarcane farmers in this regard. The deadline for clearing all dues to the farmers has been set for January 21.

According to the news report, Shree Ram Sugar Mill has pending payment of Rs. 267.77 to farmers. Unpaid dues of Lumbini Sugar Industry and Bagmati Khadsari Sugar Mill amount to Rs. 107 million and Rs. 84 million respectively. The latter two sugar mills are still out of contact, according to Binod Khadka, information officer at the Department of Industry. The government authorities are trying to establish contact with the mill owners, and sooner or later they will have to approach the concerned authorities on their own. There is no escaping from the payment responsibility. An amicable relations between the sugar mills and sugarcane farmers is essential as they are closely inter-dependent. Mills cannot operate without raw materials and farmers will have to waste their products without mills. Payment deadlock should not stand as a barrier between them.

Sugar is a hot consumer commodity in the market that brings immediate return. Therefore, a well operating sugar mill does not generally run the risk of bearing losses. Timely payment of dues to the farmers is something that is vital for cultivating good relations with the sugarcane growers and keep the production robust. Even those sugar mills that have made some payments have not done so in satisfactory manner. Spokesman at the Ministry Dinesh Bhattarai said that payment status of Indira Sugar and Agro Limited and Annapurna Sugar and General Industries is poor. It means the mills have made very insignificant amount of payments. The government has written them to speed up the payment. Let us hope parties concerned will clear their dues within the deadline.