Oil licences issued to pvt firms scrapped

- Post Report, Kathmandu
We were forced to take the decision after Birat sold petrol at Rs130 per litreGanesh Man PunSupply Minister

Mar 18, 2016-The government has scrapped the licences issued to private companies to trade oil after getting its fingers burnt with its controversial decision to award a permit to a shadowy firm Birat Petroleum that drew widespread condemnation due to its high-priced product. 

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting held at Baluwatar on Thursday evening.

The decision means 35 private companies including Birat have lost the petroleum business licences that the Department of Supply Management had issued to them. 

Earlier in the day, Minister of Supplies Ganesh Man Pun said the government had acted due to concerns that private companies could exploit consumers by charging exorbitant prices as had been done by Birat Petroleum. 

“We were forced to take the decision after Birat sold petrol at Rs130 per litre, which is much higher compared to the prevailing market rate,” said Supply Minister Pun, speaking at a meeting of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday. 

Birat was forced to roll back the price to Rs99 per litre following a public uproar and bring it on par with that Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC). 

Last October, the government had allowed private companies to import and distribute petroleum products by endorsing Petroleum and Gas Transaction (Regulatory) Orders 2013 as the country was in the grip of a severe fuel shortage caused by India’s trade embargo. The companies had been given a deadline of mid-April to begin operations. 

Government officials and lawmakers attending the PAC meeting blamed NOC’s Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka for taking an unilateral decision to allow Birat to sell petrol at a higher price and use NOC’s distribution network. Khadka has been criticized for not even informing the related government authorities while implementing the decision. 

Secretary Sapkota said the NOC chief had informed the ministry about his decision three days after Birat had been permitted to sell its high-priced petrol. 

“Khadka had granted the permission to Birat on March 6. He said that he had not been able to inform the government as there were three public holidays in a row,” said Sapkota. 

Khadka has claimed that he issued the permit to Birat after receiving a letter from the Supply Ministry. 

Lawmakers criticised the government bodies and NOC for promoting black marketeering. “Instead of acknowledging their mistakes, they have been passing the blame to each other,” said lawmaker Dhan Raj Gurung. 

The lawmakers have asked the parliamentary committee to take stern action against the officials involved in such a controversial decision. 

Lawmaker Sarvendra Nath Sukla said that there was institutional involvement of the government in not fixing the price while granting licences to private importers.

 

Published: 18-03-2016 08:29

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