LPG supply far from normal

  • NOC claims daily import up from 40k to 70k cylinders
  • Dual pricing system put on hold
- Rajesh Khanal, KATHMANDU
LPG supply far from normal

Jan 29, 2015-

As Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) struggles to restore normalcy in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) supply, it has once again postponed the dual pricing system of LPG.

With common people grappling with LPG crisis, NOC has postponed the enforcement of colour-coded LPG cylinders (red for private consumers and blue for commercial users). NOC was supposed to bring the system into force on Thursday.

Sources said the ousted NOC chief Chandika Prasad Bhatta had planned to implement the dual cylinders from January 29. But the system was left on the backburner after Bhatta was sacked on Monday. He was replaced by Gopal Bahadur Khadka, an engineer at Road Department, as new NOC managing director. With an aim to ease distribution and provide subsidy to the target groups, NOC had introduced dual cylinder system on February 13, 2013, classifying LPG consumers into two categories: subsidised and non-subsidised. However, it rolled back the decision under pressure from the student unions at the time.

The state oil monopoly said it had jacked up imports from 40,000 cylinders a day to 70,000 the past week to ease the shortage. Despite the considerable increase in LPG import from India, the gas supply is far from normal. While Nepal’s average daily demand remains at 56,000 cylinders, 14,000 surplus cylinders do not seem to have reached the consumers.

The current gas shortage, sources indicate, stems from collusion between the minister and the state minister for Commerce and Supplies and private gas traders, to create an artificial shortage to remove Bhatta. The ousted NOC chief had refused to go easy on tanker and gas station owners accused of oil theft seven months ago.

Consumer right activists said the timely implementation of the dual system would have prevented the current crisis. “The dual pricing mechanism would have addressed the current crisis to some extent,” said Madhav Timilsina, president of Consumer Rights Investigation Forum. “It would have ensured transparency in the LPG supply to commercial users and discourage hoarding.”

Thirty percent of the NOC’s total LPG consumers comes from the commercial sector, which includes hotels and restaurants. Under the dual pricing system, commercial users will have to pay Rs 1,760 per cylinder instead of the current Rs 1,470 which includes a government subsidy of Rs 290.

NOC, however, laments that the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies delayed the endorsement of working guideline, forcing it to postpone the dual cylinder system this time. The NOC board, of which commerce secretary is the chairman, has showed no interest in endorsing the guideline, sources said.

But NOC remains firm on its position to enforce the system soon, according to officials there. “The corporation has only put the plan on hold. We will enforce the dual pricing system as soon as the ongoing LPG shortage eases,” said NOC Spokesperson Mukunda Ghimire.

‘Distribution through multiple depots’

Kathmandu: Nepal Oil Corporation has said it will start selling LPG cylinders at specified areas in Kathmandu Valley beginning Thursday. “The consumers can purchase LPG from nearby depots,” said NOC Spokesperson Mukunda Ghimire. Earlier, the government had dristributed LPG from National Trading Limited on Sunday and Monday. Ghimire said distribution through multiple depots would ease the supply of LPG. (PR)

Govt to NOC: Maintain smooth supply

KATHMANDU: The Central Monitoring and Evaluation Committee led by Chief Secretary Lila Mani Paudyal on Wednesday directed NOC to maintain smooth supply of the LPG, asking it to chart out a clear work plan for the purpose.

He also directed NOC to construct infrastructure to hold adequate LPG in stock for at least a month. Neither NOC nor the gas bottlers maintains proper storage system at present.

The Prime Minister’s Office also instructed NOC to take stern action against any LPG traders involved in black marketing. PMO Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi has also asked NOC to implement the dual cylinders system.

Published: 29-01-2015 07:37

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