Govt to revive card system for LPG salesThe government announced on Friday that it would be making another bid to implement a card system for the distribution of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) after the first two attempts ended in fiasco.
The government announced on Friday that it would be making another bid to implement a card system for the distribution of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) after the first two attempts ended in fiasco.
The planned card system would support the scheme to use colour-coded cylinders for domestic and industrial users. Under this system, household buyers would get LPG in red cylinders at a subsidized rate while industrial users would get it in blue cylinders which would be sold at the full price.
The card system was expected to make the LPG distribution channel transparent and hassle-free, besides curbing rampant black marketeering and hoarding. However, the card system was a non-starter as bottlers refused to cooperate complaining about the increased cost of using two types of cylinders.
In 2012, the government inaugurated the system with much fanfare, issuing the first card to the then prime minister Baburam Bhattarai. A total of 632,000 such cards were distributed.
Former chief of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) Chandika Prasad Bhatta, who had planned to enforce the dual cylinder system from January 29, 2015, was removed from the post two days before the scheduled launch, allegedly under the influence of bottlers. Following his ouster, the plan was not implemented.
Minister for Supply Ganesh Man Pun on Friday told the parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee that the ministry had planned to revive the gas card system with the hope that its would help check hoarding and massive sales to commercial users.
“A meeting of the consumer council at the ministry on Thursday decided to enforce the gas card system,” said Pun. No deadline has been fixed. Pun said the ministry had decided to bring back the card system to end the shortage of cooking gas under a long-term plan.
The general public continues to suffer as cooking gas is hard to come by even though two and a half months have passed since India lifted the trade embargo. Both gas sellers and NOC say the shortage is an ‘artificial shortage’.
While government bodies and NOC have blamed the artificial crisis on sales in massive quantities to businesses like hotels, restaurants and catering services, gas bottlers have blamed hoarding by the general public.
“The card system will control hoarding by households and prevent suppliers from selling excessive quantities to commercial users,” Pun said.
The government has planned to implement the card system in coordination with local governments this time after the centrally planned distribution mechanism failed.
Anandaram Regmi, spokesperson for the ministry, said they would be conducting a meeting with representatives of municipalities and village development committees next week to discuss the feasibility of distributing gas cards through local bodies.
“As distributing cards through local bodies could be effective, we have planned to revive the scheme,” he said.
Apart from implementing the card system as a long-term solution to end perennial cooking gas shortages, the ministry has formed two special monitoring teams to oversee LPG distribution. According to Regmi, the first team is led by the ministry’s Under Secretary Kamal Raj Bhandari while the second team is headed by Laxman Shrestha, director of the Department of Supplies Management.
Regmi said the monitoring teams would begin work on Friday. “The teams will check the distribution of LPG by bottlers besides making them maintain proper records of deliveries,” he said.
NOC to set up office in Barauni
Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Friday that it would be setting up an office on the premises of Indian Oil Corporation’s Barauni refinery. The NOC office is expected to help load adequate quantities of cooking gas bullets for Nepal. Sushil Bhattarai, acting deputy managing director of NOC, said the Indian supplier had agreed to allow it to set up its office there. “It will help regulate gas supplies as NOC could carry out direct supervision of the gas companies importing cooking fuel.”