The three public enterprises (PEs)—Salt Trading, National Trading and Nepal Food Corporation (NFC)—have said they will not be able to operate fair price shops this festival season if the Ministry of Finance failed to reimburse the subsidy amount for the last year.
They are yet to receive a combined Rs120 million as reimbursement from the government, they said.
The government has been operating fair price shops every year for the last two decades under the guidance of the Ministry of Commerce and Supply during major festivals such as Dashain, Tihar and Chhat. Last year, such shops were operated in eight locations in the valley, and 63 locations outside.
The shops sell essential goods, including rice, beaten rice, pulses, dairy products, fruits, sugar and salt among others. Through the shops are set up to control a possible artificial price hike during the festivals when the demand soars notably.
According to Salt Trading, it is to receive more than Rs70 million from the government. Of the amount, Rs48.5 million is for selling subsidised sugar this year, while the rest is for fair price shops operated in the past years. Salt Trading had offered a subsidy of Rs5 per kg on sugar, while it had offered a subsidy of Rs2 per kg packet on salt.
Kumar Rajbhandari, assistant general manager of Salt Trading, said they could face financial problem to operate the fair price shops if the government did not provide the due amount on time. “As the fair price shops are meant to regulate supply and control price, the government’s negligence could hit the poor hard,” he said.
National Trading is yet to receive more than Rs 13 million, out of which Rs3 million is for selling subsidised sugar in 2011-12. Managing Director Purna Shankar Basi said the Finance Ministry has been delaying the payment of Rs3 million, while it is in the process of receiving the remaining amount. “Due to the delay in the payment, we have been facing the shortage of working capital,” said Basi.
NFC said it is to receive Rs 36.4 million.
Officials of all three enterprises complained about the Finance Ministry’s dilly-dallying. Saroj Nidhi Tiwari, an official of Salt Trading, said they could not reject the government’s order despite non-payment of the subsidy.