Kathmandu, November 6
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature-Parliament today sought details of the progress made by the government to solve the ongoing fuel crisis.
The House panel today wrote to the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) and Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), and directed both to furnish details about the initiatives taken by NOC to import petroleum products to meet the domestic demand.
The PAC has asked the government to present the details of the progress made after NOC sought expressions of interest (EoI) from bidders to import fuel on October 8. The panel has instructed both the Ministry and NOC to submit the particulars of all works pertaining to the effort underway to import fuel, including the letter of intent submitted by the bidders within three days.
They have been urged to furnish details regarding all bidders and their past records, proposed plans (including proposed schedules and rates), criteria adopted by the Corporation to select the bidder and related documents.
The instruction by the House panel has come at a time when NOC has awarded the contract to import fuel to a Nepali company — Birat Petroleum Pvt Ltd.
After delaying in awarding the contract within a week of publishing the notice, as instructed by the government, NOC had signed the agreement with Birat Petroleum on October 15 and tried to keep it under wraps. However, now that the cat is out of the bag, NOC officials seem to be keen in mixing up the global contract with issuance of licence to private firms to import fuel based on the gazette notice, which was published on October 19 — four days after the pact with Birat was inked.
When asked about the contract, NOC’s Acting Deputy Managing Director Sushil Bhattarai had even said, “Since the government has now allowed private companies to import fuel, NOC will not be compelled to purchase fuel from Birat Petroleum because the company can directly sell fuel in the market as per the law.”
After the notice asking interested firms to submit their EoI was published, over 19 firms from various countries had shown interest to supply fuel to fuel-strapped Nepal. NOC had asked for supply of 200 kl of diesel, 100 kl petrol, 200 kl aviation turbine fuel and kerosene and 100 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas each day for 15 days in the first lot to resolve the immediate crisis, as the festive season was nearing back then.
As per the proposal submitted by Birat Petroleum, it will buy petrol and diesel from Siliguri deport of Bharat Petroleum Corporation and sell petrol to NOC at Rs 199 per litre and diesel at Rs 178 a litre. The quoted rates are 91.35 per cent and 119.75 per cent higher than the existing market price of petrol and diesel, respectively.
Moreover, a high-placed NOC source informed that neither the supply quantity nor the period have been mentioned in the contract with Birat Petroleum.
A version of this article appears in print on November 06, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.