Petro talks come a cropper, another round today

Kathmandu, June 27:

The government today fa-iled to persuade the Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association to call off its strike.

“Talks between a government task force and an NPDA team failed as the former refused to concede to our demands,” said NPDA president Shiv Prasad Ghimire. Another round will be held at 1 pm tomorrow. Urging the government to meet its demands, the NPDA has halted the distribution of petroleum products since June 20. The agitating dealers associated with the NPDA have been demanding a smooth supply of petroleum products and parity in the price of diesel and kerosene.

“The dealers want huge commission,” said Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Shyam Sundar Gupta, adding that the government, by fixing flat commission, had decre-ased dealers’ commission.

Earlier, the dealers used to get three per cent commission on the sale of petroleum products. The government fixed flat commission to minimise losses incurred by the state-run oil monopoly NOC.

“The government pays the petroleum dealers shrinking charges (compensation for loss of oil due to hot temperature and other reasons) when they deserve it, but they demand shrinking charges for shipping petroleum products from Thankot to Kathmandu. This is unacceptable,” the minister added.

General Secretary of the Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights Jyoti Baniya said, “The dealers of petroleum products want to compel the NOC to pay them hefty shrinking and insurance charges.”

Managing director of the NOC Digambar Jha said a mechanism should be put in place to provide subsidy to the lowest rung of the society before fixing a single price for diesel and kerosene.

“They tell us to do it right now. For a government, people’s concern matters the most, while for businesses it is the commission that matters,” Jha quipped. He said dealers’ demand for a smooth supply of petroleum products was irrational as the fuel crisis triggered by skyrocketing crude pri-ces had been gripping industrialised nations as well.