Kathmandu, November 7
The Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of the Legislature-Parliament has instructed Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to furnish all the documents related to the state-owned petroleum supply monopoly’s decision to award a contract to Birat Petroleum Company for the import of petroleum products from India amid the fuel crisis in the country.
The House committee’s meeting held at Singha Durbar, today, concluded that the petroleum products that would be imported as per the contract with Birat Petroleum Company, which was made breaching the existing laws, would be expensive and affect consumers.
After evaluating all the bids received through a global tender to supply fuel, NOC had awarded the contract to Kathmandu-based Birat Petroleum and also released Rs 200 million to the company to open a letter of credit in a bid to import fuel just before the Dashain festival. Birat had made a proposal to bring petrol and diesel from Siliguri of India and quoted Rs 199 for one litre of petrol and Rs 187 for a litre of diesel.
The committee had sought clarification from Commerce Secretary Naindra Prasad Upadhyay and Managing Director of NOC Gopal Bahadur Khadka regarding the deal with Birat Petroleum in an earlier meeting of the House panel held on Thursday.
While replying to the queries raised by parliamentarians, Khadka’s response was irresponsible. He had said that it was not possible to bring fuel by following the rules.
As per the contract with Birat Petroleum, it is obvious that NOC will have to bear a huge loss as it has pledged to purchase fuel imported by Birat and distribute it in the market at a subsidised rate.
Members of the House panel objected to Khadka’s presentation and recommended action against him. The parliamentary panel today did not taken any action against Khadka but it has decided to form a panel to study the related documents and look into the matter.
The meeting, presided over by the committee’s Chairman Bhishma Raj Angdembe, also directed the government to take an initiative to resolve the issues of supply line disruptions due to the obstruction in the movement of vehicles from India to Nepal through diplomatic channels and exert pressure on India through international forums, if need be, to resume supplies and establish transit rights of the landlocked country.
The committee also directed the government to expedite the process to open the seven border points with China in the north and upgrade the operational trade routes namely, Rasuwagadi-Kyirong and Tatopani-Lhasa with the northern neighbour.
A recent meeting of the customs authorities of Nepal and China has decided to open Yari, Humla-Poraag; Olangchung Gola, Taplejung-Riwa; Jumla-Penan; Korala Pass, Mustang-Lizi; Larke, Gorkha-Tibet; Chhekampar,Gorkha-Tibet and Kimathanka, Sankhuwasabha-Riwa border points in a bid to boost trade relations.
The Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee has also decided to hold discussions with the Public Accounts Committee over their jurisdiction as the latter has also started looking into the issues of NOC’s deal with private parties to supply fuel.
Nepal Oil Corporation recently issued licence to 11 private firms to import fuel, after the gazette notice published on October 19, which has permitted the private sector to import and distribute fuel in the domestic market.
A version of this article appears in print on November 08, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.