LPG bottlers ask for removal of tanker import hurdlesGas bottlers on Monday asked the government to remove hurdles preventing them from importing tank trucks to carry liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as continuing obstructions would only lead to Rs2.5 billion flowing out of the country in freight costs annually.
Gas bottlers on Monday asked the government to remove hurdles preventing them from importing tank trucks to carry liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as continuing obstructions would only lead to Rs2.5 billion flowing out of the country in freight costs annually.
The government’s budget statement for this fiscal year had announced a plan to waive two-thirds of the customs duty on the import of tank trucks known as gas bullets.
Accordingly, on July 20, state-owned oil monopoly Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) issued permits to 53 gas bottling plants to import 775 bullets. Two of the gas bullets have arrived at the customs office in Birgunj, and other bottling plants have placed orders for 350 more gas bullets.
“But we have not been able to clear the two bullets that arrived at the Birgunj Customs Office on December 2 even after submitting all the required paperwork,” said Shiva Ghimire, president of the Nepal LPG Industry Association, on Monday.
Ghimire added that customs officials had been holding up the clearance process stating that the Ministry of Supplies had not given its permission.
Nepali gas bottling plants are currently using gas bullets owned by Indian transporters to bring LPG into the country.
After the government announced that they would be allowed to maintain their own fleet of tank trucks, they had informed Indian transporters that they would not be renewing their contracts which are due to expire in November 2017.
“The Indian transporters have also said that they have already signed contracts with other companies and will not be transporting LPG to Nepal after their contracts run out next November,” said Ghimire.
“So, if the government does not hurry up, Nepal may not be able to import LPG after 11 months for lack of tank trucks.”
The 53 gas bottling plants that have received permits to buy tank trucks will be reportedly spending Rs5.4 billion for 775 bullets. The country is currently paying Rs2.5 billion per year to Indian transporters to ship LPG. Despite the advantages for Nepal to have its own fleet of tank trucks, the government seems to be creating obstructions because of a probe by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), traders said.
On August 15, the anti-corruption watchdog had confiscated NOC’s files after it gave permission to import new LPG bullets and enlarge the fleet of oil tankers.
The CIAA moved on suspicion that NOC Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka and a number of high-ranking officials had received kickbacks while issuing the permits.
“Officials at the Supplies Ministry and the customs office may have deliberately delayed the import process to avoid CIAA action,” said a high-ranking NOC official on condition of anonymity.
As per the source, NOC has prepared a draft of LPG transport bylaws. “We will submit it to the NOC board for final approval,” the source said.