STC okayed to sell piled up stock of zinc sheets

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 22, 2017-

The Finance Ministry has given the go-ahead to Salt Trading Corporation (STC) to sell the Rs300 million worth of zinc sheets it had imported for the reconstruction of houses destroyed by the earthquake two years ago.

The roofing sheets have remained piled up in its warehouses since then as the government decided to provide cash relief to quake victims instead of construction materials as originally planned.

The government had told STC to buy 50,000 bundles of zinc sheets for Rs350 million and tarpaulins following the devastating April 2015 earthquake. The state-owned corporation incurred losses as it could not sell them on the open market.

Supply Secretary Prem Kumar Rai they were yet to receive an official letter from Finance Ministry. According to him, the Finance Ministry’s decision will allow STC to recover the money it has spent on importing the roofing materials.

STC bought the zinc sheets from Jindal India Limited through a global tender. According to STC officials, the corporation has racked up further losses amounting to Rs50 million in warehouse rent and bank interest.

“We will start a tender process after the Finance Ministry’s decision is approved by the Cabinet,” said STC Manager Pankaj Joshi.

The National Planning Commission had originally proposed to provide two bundles of zinc sheets to each quake affected family. However, the government later decided to give Rs15,000 each to the families whose houses were destroyed instead of the roofing materials.

More than 700,000 houses were estimated to be partially or fully damaged by the killer quake, rendering hundreds of thousands of families homeless. Demand for corrugated roofing sheets soared after the disaster, leading to shortages and a black market.

The government had aimed to prevent a black market by making roofing sheets easily available through STC. It even forbade Nepali manufacturers from exporting them until the crisis was over.

Published: 22-03-2017 10:00

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