Kathmandu, November 23
Lawmakers today came down heavily upon the government, charging it of ‘promoting’ black-marketing of petroleum products in the country.
Ram Hari Khatiwada, a member of the opposition Nepali Congress, said that the chief district officer of Rupandehi had caught chief of Bhalwari Depot of state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) transporting fuel in an illegal manner.
“The fuel was ferried by a tanker to Hama Petrol Pump in Halchowk and sold to a construction firm for a profit of Rs 600,000,” Khatiwada told the meeting of Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts. “This shows government itself is promoting black-marketing in country.”
Other lawmakers, such as Hari Prasad Nepal, Prem Bahadur Singh and Dhan Raj Gurung, also charged the government of ‘promoting black-marketing of fuel’.
“It is said the country is reeling under fuel crisis. But roads in the Valley are filled with vehicles. Where is all the fuel coming from? Doesn’t this prove government has failed to curb black-marketing?” Nepal questioned.
NOC, sole supplier of petroleum products in the country, imported 15.95 million litres of petrol in two-month period between September 18 and November 17. It also imported 50.10 million litres of diesel, 928,000 litres of kerosene and 6.39 million litres of aviation fuel in the same period.
Altogether, NOC has imported around 73.37 million litres of fuel since the time fuel crisis reached its peak in the country. On ordinary days, this supply would have been sufficient for around 18 days, considering per day consumption of four million litres of these fuel.
“Yet, you don’t see much impact of fuel crisis in the Valley,” said Singh, adding, “This is because one can easily buy a cylinder of cooking gas for Rs 8,000 and a litre of petrol for Rs 500 in black-market.”
He then questioned: “Shouldn’t the government take action against those running a parallel economy.”
In response, Supplies and Commerce Minister Ganesh Man Pun said the government was trying to bring those engaged in black-marketing to books.
“We have already formed a five-member team to investigate cases of black-marketing of fuel and take action against those found guilty,” the minister said. He, however, acknowledged that progress on this front was slow. “But I promise I won’t let the culprits go scot free,” the minister said.
NOC depot chiefs summoned
KATHMANDU: Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC)’s depot chiefs of Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa and Birtamod have been summoned to NOC’s head office in Kathmandu to check their possible involvement in irregularities. Minister for Commerce and Supplies Ganesh Man Pun on Monday asked the Depot Chiefs namely, Shreechandra Bhandari of Nepalgunj Depot, Dinesh Kumar Yadav of Bhairahawa Depot and Basudev Bhandari of Birtamod Depot, to report to NOC head office in Kathmandu and directed high-level investigation team to initiate probe against them. The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies had formed the investigation team on Thursday
under leadership of its joint secretary to probe cases of irregularities in petroleum business.
A version of this article appears in print on November 24, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.