Kathmandu-Industry Minister Lekh Raj Bhatta has said sugar manufacturers have not been punished for not paying sugarcane farmers due to fear of affecting investment in the country.
Speaking in the meeting of the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of the parliament called on Thursday to discuss the lack of payment to farmers by Sriram Sugar Mills, Minister Bhatta said industrialists cannot be demoralized at the time of COVID-19 pandemic.
He stressed that the delinquent industrialists cannot be punished in a way that can discourage them even though there are only two alternatives of either saving the sugar factories or recovering the dues by declaring the factories sick.
He said though there are options of making Sriram pay the farmers from their assets or locking up the owners, that can obstruct flow of investment into the country. “We are trying to bring in investment now. We are uncertain as to whether investment will arrive or not, and the country will move toward industrialization or not after we lock up the industrialists and recover the dues from assets. This is not an issue of giving anyone a leeway,” he stated.
He claimed that the ministry has taken the lack of payment to farmers seriously and is in continuous discussion to provide objective scientific solution in a way that sugar factories are saved. He reasoned that punishing any industry at a time when industrialists and entrepreneurs are suffering at the time of pandemic will send a wrong message.