House panel urges effective fuel distribution

Kathmandu, October 29

The Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Legislature-Parliament today instructed the government to distribute fuel efficiently and effectively, giving top priority to operators of essential services.

The parliamentary committee had summoned the commerce minister, commerce secretary, the director general of the Department of Commerce and Supply Management (DoCSM) and officials of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) as committee had received numerous complaints from public of fuel being distributed unfairly. The committee has asked the government to provide diesel to bigger public vehicles as much as possible so that more people could avail transportation service.

“Operation of lifeline services should be in the top priority,” said Bhisma Raj Angdembe, chairperson of the committee. “We know there is limitation in supply of fuel due to the short-supply in import, but not a single drop of fuel that is being distributed should be misused.”

The committee has also instructed the DoCSM to make market monitoring effective as the black-marketeering of petroleum products and other essential goods has been increasing. Taking advantage of the dire situation, some gas bottlers have been selling cooking gas cylinders in the black market, as per lawmakers. “An efficient supply management is required to cope with this challenge,” the committee said.

Lawmakers in the meeting alleged that DoCSM, the authorised market monitoring body of the government, has turned a blind eye to the malpractices prevalent in the market.

Similarly, the parliamentary committee also instructed the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies to upgrade the trade routes with China in coordination with the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport for the easy movement of vehicles from China to Nepal, which will expand the trade volume with the northern neighbour as well.

NOC has also been urged to import fuel from both India and China considering the increasing demand of fuel in the country and expand its storage capacity.

The committee also directed the government to set a long-term energy policy and explore alternative energy sources like solar and bio-fuel, among others, to make the country self-reliant on energy sources in the long term through development of hydro-energy, and exploration of petroleum and gas mines.

The government had earlier started petroleum exploration in the country through Petroleum Exploration Promotion Project, under the Department of Mines and Geology, which is at the moment in a defunct status.

Speaking in the meeting, newly appointed Commerce Minister Ganesh Man Pun said that the government has managed fuel distribution through the government-owned fuel stations with the aim to distribute fuel effectively.

“We have channelised fuel distribution through government-owned fuel stations to distribute the fuel on priority basis and in a proper manner,” said Pun, adding, “We have been continuously monitoring these fuel stations to control the possible anomalies like nepotism and favouritism.”

He also informed that the government recently signed a government-to-government (G2G) deal with the government of China to import petroleum products from China as India Oil Corporation had heavily cut the quantity of fuel being supplied to Nepal since last month.

Likewise, Director General of DoCSM Shambhu Koirala said that the department has been conducting market monitoring activities effectively across the country in coordination with the District Administration Offices. “We have stopped supplying fuel to some fuel stations that were found to be involved in hoarding and black marketing by the DoCSM market monitoring team.”