PAC tells govt to resolve fuel crisis without delay

House panel has asked Nepal Oil Corporation about its plans of airlifting fuel to cater to the immediate need and instructed the state-owned oil monopoly to sign an agreement with a reliable party as soon as possible

Kathmandu, October 10

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature-Parliament, today, instructed the government to resolve the current fuel crisis at the earliest, as people planning to visit their hometowns to celebrate the Dashain festival have been facing difficulties due to scarcity of fuel.

PAC also asked Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) about its plans of airlifting fuel to cater to the immediate need and instructed NOC to sign a pact with a reliable party as soon as possible.

NOC had sought expression of interest (EoI) on Thursday for petroleum supply from suppliers across the globe within three days. It is reported that NOC will receive EoI till Sunday and begin negotiations with a reliable party from among the interested parties.

NOC has sought EoI from suppliers to submit their proposals to supply 200 kilolitres of diesel, 100 kl petrol, 200 kl aviation turbine fuel and 100 tonnes of cooking gas every day for 15 days.

The parliamentary panel today also directed the government to talk with the government of India through diplomatic channel to establish its transit rights. The Cabinet meeting, on Friday, had formed a committee chaired by the foreign minister and comprising commerce minister, ambassador of Nepal to India, foreign secretary, commerce secretary, home secretary and finance secretary to hold talks with the Indian government.

PAC also instructed the government to explore and exploit all available options to smoothen the supply of petroleum products in the country.

The parliamentary panel today discussed with the home minister, foreign minister, finance minister and commerce minister and other concerned government stakeholders and sought details of the initiatives being undertaken to resolve the current problems.

In the meeting, members of PAC alleged that the ministers and government officials lacked seriousness in tackling the problems facing the country.

“The government has not yet formally approached China for the supply of essentials,” said Dhan Raj Gurung, member of PAC, adding, “The government has totally failed in seeking other options despite India’s unofficial economic blockade on Nepal.”

Since September 23, the government of India has not been dispatching the trucks and containers as in the normal times citing security concerns of their freight companies and transporters due to the protests in the Tarai.

In the programme, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam said that the Indian government’s reasons for restricting vehicular movement to Nepal did not hold water. Stating that the government has been providing full security to transporters, he added, “The Tarai protests have been ongoing since the last two months, but there was no problem in the movement of vehicles on the highways until around two weeks ago.”

According to Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, even as the Indian government has not officially declared a blockade, the movement of vehicles from India to Nepal has dropped to 200 to 300 per day compared with 2,500 trucks and containers during normal times. Revenue collection per day at the customs points had also dwindled to Rs 50 million from Rs 500 million at normal times, according to him.

Underlining that the current situation had triggered a major economic crisis, Mahat said, “It is Nepal government’s duty to provide security to the transporters after the trucks and containers enter Nepal and the Indian government need not worry about it.” He also urged the government of India to allow unrestricted movement of goods from India to Nepal.

As the festive season is nearing, the government will manage fuel for long route bigger public vehicles during Dashain, according to Commerce Minister Sunil Bahadur Thapa. He informed that NOC will distribute fuel to private vehicles for one day before Dashain and manage uninterrupted service of bigger public vehicles during Dashain.

Last year, 2.6 million people had left Kathmandu during Dashain period. Minister Thapa also informed that the government has also talked with the government of India and they have assured of sending liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Mathura so that cooking gas can enter Nepal from Dhangadhi area, as the protests in Birgunj has been affecting import from Barauni via Raxaul.