Kathmandu, July 24
The state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has started groundwork to establish daily fuel pricing mechanism in the country. The mechanism will allow NOC to adjust fuel price every day in line with the global change in the price of petroleum products.
As the crux to implementing daily fuel pricing mechanism is automation of fuel stations, NOC has begun the process to automate petrol pumps across the country, informed Sushil Bhattarai, acting deputy managing director for NOC.
“As such pricing methodology cannot be implemented manually, we first need to automate our fuel stations and the fuel distribution system. NOC is on the verge of amending its bylaws and other policies requiring fuel stations to start automated operation,” said Bhattarai.
Under the automated fuel distribution system, all fuel stations will have to be technology-friendly and incorporate facilities including digital payments and digital billings.
So far, almost every fuel station across the country is being operated manually.
Bhattarai said that the current mechanism of fortnightly fuel pricing mechanism is ineffective in the backdrop of global fuel price changing every day. “Unlike the current mechanism, daily fuel pricing mechanism will be more effective from the perspective of consumers as well,” he added.
As daily adjustment in fuel price will most of the time be in paisa, such mechanism will neither add a significant financial burden nor provide any relief to consumers, opined Bhattarai.
In a bid to implement the daily fuel pricing mechanism, NOC plans to develop a digital server connecting all fuel stations across the country. Once fuel stations are fully automated and connected with the server, NOC will dispatch the fuel rate every day at around 7:00 pm.
Though there are chances of fuel hoarding under this mechanism too, the likelihood is comparatively less in the daily fuel pricing mechanism compared to the fortnightly pricing mechanism, as per Bhattarai.
However, automation of fuel stations is the core aspect to implement this plan and all fuel stations should cooperate to make fuel trading and transaction digital, he stated.
Meanwhile, petroleum dealers have said that the plan to fix fuel price every day in Nepal is feasible if NOC builds a strong mechanism to implement such system. “It is true that fuel distribution system has to be made smart and competitive. However, daily fuel pricing system can be implemented even if fuel stations are operated manually,” said a petroleum dealer.
A version of this article appears in print on July 25, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.