Added At: 2012-04-22 9:51 PM
Last Updated At: 2012-04-22 9:51 PM
Once again there are ominous signs as far as the supply of fuel is concerned. It looks like consumers will again have to bear the brunt of diesel scarcity. The Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), which enjoys a virtual monopoly, is in dire straits, and it can be termed to be virtually technically insolvent. With dwindling stocks, NOC just has enough stocks that can tide over a day or two, which is quite alarming. One shudders to think about what would happen if the NOC is not able to procure more diesel and other petroleum products immediately. Interestingly, the NOC is still importing petrol and kerosene as well as aviation fuel for it is making a profit from selling them. However, it is selling diesel at a subsidized price and is incurring a loss from their sale. The NOC is asking the government for extra funds to pay the Indian Oil Corporation Rs. 1.60 billion that it owes to it. The government on the other hand says that it is unable to do so as the Finance Ministry is now providing funds for the former Maoist combatants who have sought voluntary retirement. Although the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies have urged the Finance Ministry to do so, the Finance Ministry insists that since there are no budgetary allocations for the same it is unable to do so.
Meanwhile, there is a need to put into effect the short term, medium term and long term reform plans so that the supply of fuel is smooth and priced reasonably. The consumers should not have to pay more than they have to as they are having to do now due to no fault of theirs, but because of the the irregularities and incompetence of the NOC. The loss projected by NOC for selling diesel is not authentic by any standards. In fact, anyone can smell a rat in the figures that NOC provides, and it is obvious that they have been manipulated with ulterior motives. The NOC should make its transactions transparent. If the NOC tried to it could deal with the leakages which are rampant. It is high time that reforms suggested by the experts to rescue it from its present predicament were implemented. However, it appears that the government, which is also responsible is least concerned about doing that and is engaged in other matters, thereby, ignoring this pressing fuel problem.
In the meantime, the consumers should not suffer from the inefficiency of NOC or the apathy of the government. An agreement should be reached among all the stakeholders so that the impending crisis of diesel shortages is resolved, otherwise the consequences would be disastrous. At all times, there should be an adequate stock of fuel, but this does not seem to be NOC’s priority at all. It appears every other month there is crisis of fuel accompanied by spiraling hike in the prices hitting the consumers hard. Moreover, the hike in fuel prices is followed by the raise in the prices of essential commodities. It is high time the monopoly that NOC enjoys in the supply of fuel was ended, and the private sector allowed to import LPG. This would give rise to healthy competition from which the consumers would ultimately benefit as they would be able to procure fuel at competitive prices.
The market prices are rising in recent days. In fact, the sudden hike seen in the market prices in the past few weeks are unbelievable. To scout for valid reasons is of no reason. It has all to do with the profiteering that is openly resorted to with the government and its departments making their mute presence felt. In fact, the government seems to be confined to its role of doling out speeches sans action.
Moreover, free handouts to the near and dear of the Maoist-led government is emptying the treasury while the favoured ones make merry. But, the hard-working majority have to survive on scraps, which cannot meet the nutritional demands.
The duty of any government would be to see that the welfare of the people are uppermost. Here one only finds the people being at the receiving end and social justice is nowhere to be seen. It is only the corrupt and the goons who are actually benefitting in the present political scenario. It is agreed that liberalisation is there but it does not allow the traders and manufacturers to hike the prices by any amount they like at any time of the year. That is happening right in front of our eyes, but there’s no one the check it.