Govt to extend deadline for introduction of laminated cement sacks
BHOJ RAJ POUDEL
KATHMANDU, Aug 25: The government is preparing to pledge additional time to the cement manufacturers to mandatorily package cement in laminated bags after they failed to arrange such bags and adjust their packaging system within 91-day deadline, ending on Wednesday.
The manufactures of the key construction ingredient had formally pleaded with the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MoEST) for extension of its enforcement timeline last week.
In a bid to exert pressure on the government to extend the duration, they had even announced stopping supply of cement in the market from Wednesday.
“We are extending the deadline since the industrialists could not manage laminated sacks for packaging cement,” Krishna Gyawali, secretary at the MoEST told Republica. However, the Ministry is yet to decide on the duration of extension.
The MoEST took initiatives for the extension after Ministry of Industry (MoI) formally approached it for the change. “We will set the new enforcement deadline based on what MoI has mentioned in its letter and also what the manufacturers say,” said Gyawali.
Currently, cement marketed in Nepal are packaged in un-laminated sacks made of polymer. But MoEST in May said use of these sacks was sub-standard practice as it causes seepage and inflicts net loss to consumers. "The cement manufacturers, hence, are asked to mandatorily switch to laminated sacks within 91 days or halt supply of cement," its notice read.
But manufacturers said they found complying with the new rule impossible because there was no laminated sack manufacturing unit in the country. “Setting up the new laminated sack manufacturing industry and also adjusting our packaging system will take at least 15 to 18 months,” Atma Ram Murarka, president of Cement Manufacturers´ Association of Nepal (CMAN) said.
Some of the cement manufacturers and polymer sack producers had even tagged the government´s new rule as ´policy corruption´ done in favor of new investor. They claimed it will not serve consumers well, as use of laminated sacks will increase the cost of packaging, thereby making cement expensive by Rs 20 per sack.
Basu Dev Golyan, president of the Nepal Woven Fabric and Sacks Manufacturers´ Association (NWFSMA) too said that some Rs 1.2 billion per year will fly abroad since there is not even a single factory which can produce laminated sacks in the country. "It costs Rs 600 million to install the technology that produces laminated sacks,"”Golyan said.
Referring to the investment and time required to sufficiently produce laminated sacks locally, the cement and sacks manufactures have requested the government to extend the deadline by 3 years. "Hopefully, the government will respond to our request positively,"”said Murarka said.