NOC overhaul sought to ease prices

Kathmandu, September 11 :

Consumers and energy experts sought to completely reform Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) in areas like the distribution system, transportation, storage, retail and wholesale price to bring down the price of petroleum products.

A programme was organised by the committee on petroleum products, supply, price and management headed by Bhanu Prasad Acharya formed by the government earlier. The committee was formed to assess the prices of PoL products at the international level and recommend the government for price adjustment after the street riots following a hike in PoL prices recently.

Bhanu Prasad Acharya, coordinator of the committee sought experts’ suggestions to be incorporated in the report, which will be handed over to the government after the completion of one month.

The committee is entitled to carry out the job of assessing the price rise in PoL products at home, management reform aspect, and supply management, among others.

As Nepal is totally dependent on the import of PoL products, lack of timely adjustment in prices have created a financial crisis for NOC which will ultimately affect the country as a whole.

Quoting experts’ views, Acharya said that there seems to be cartelling in the price of PoL products and there is a lack of competition in the market.

According to Acharya, there is a loss in all PoL products besides petrol, despite government charging the customs duty. The government levies 31 per cent tax on petrol and 22 per cent on diesel, which is less than other countries in South Asia, says Acharya.

He talked about the need for reform in the distribution system of PoL products, transportation and storage system, as well as monitoring retail wholesale price.

Dr Posh Raj Pandey, member of National Planning Commission (NPC), sought experts’ help in making the price of PoL products more logical for consumers, manage reforms and the distribution channel.

Amrit Nakarmi, professor at the Institute of Engineering Collage, Pulchowk and former GM of NOC expressed concerns that so far no suggestions made by the committee has been adopted by the government as to PoL prices.

As per the figures of 90s, according to Nakarmi, there was a consumption growth in PoL over 12 per cent in Nepal. He said that of the total value of commodity export, more than 50 per cent we use for importing PoL products.

He suggested making a differential-pricing mechanism during summer and winter to save on energy. Despite the talk about automatic pricing mechanisms for long, it has not yet been implemented, he said.

Ratna Sansar Shrestha, energy expert said that the committee formed by the government to look after PoL products’ price mechanism is not appropriate as there is an absence of energy expert.

Shrestha held the government responsible for increased losses of NOC. Consumer activist Bhola Pokharel said that losses calculated by NoC does not seem logical. Another consumer activist Prem Lal Maharjan spoke about the need to import PoL products from third countries.