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By Baeau Tai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 29) – Papua New Guinea’s Ramu Sugar Ltd. is now exempted from paying import duty for up to 7,000 tonnes of refined white sugar brought into the country.

The decision exempting RSL from import duty payment was made by the National Executive Council yesterday.

Acting Prime Minister Don Polye said the cabinet had directed the Internal Revenue Commission to make "appropriate waiver" for RSL’s exemption to take effect.

Mr Polye said that one-off duty exemption granted to Ramu Sugar was aimed help the company meet the shortfall it experienced and fill the domestic market demands.

"The cabinet had considered the fate of the company following the adverse weather conditions which affected the company’s plan to produce 480,000 tonnes of canes and a further 45,000 tonnes of sugar this year," Mr Polye, who is also the Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation, said.

RSL chairman Peter Colton said during the company’s annual general meeting this year that while RSL had a very successful year last year, it has experienced one of the "periodic dips" in production this year to which agriculture is susceptible.

Cane production is down about 20% compared to last year.

"The weather has been adverse. Ratoon stunting disease continues to restrict cane growth," he said.

RSL’s future depends on its core business of sugar and palm oil, while plans are already in place to go into peanut and cashew planting later.

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