The latest decision of the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to review unjustifiable facilities being given to its staffs is a welcome step. If executed, it is estimated to cut the corporation’s financial burden by around Rs 30 million a year. No wonder, the decision, which slashed the benefits to NOC employees that were considerably higher as compared to the perks enjoyed by the employees of other public enterprises, has met with a stiff resistance. While exerting pressure on the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies to revoke the decision, they have even threatened to resign en masse and jeopardize the operations at the state-owned petroleum monopoly. Their demand is unreasonable. Hence, we urge the government to execute the important cost cutting measures that will help plug seepage, something which have been costing both NOC and its consumers dear.
The reaction of the NOC employees is unjustified because the board’s decision did not suggest that all their facilities be taken away. All it asked for was rationalization of benefits. Instead of fuel facility worth 60 liters of kerosene (equivalent to Rs 5,400 every month) to a staff, the board asked the management to provide them a cylinder of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) a month, if required. We believe the offer is fair for two reasons; first, kerosene is barely used for the purpose of the cooking in city areas thus has little use for NOC staffs and second, while allowing the staff to continue to enjoy the facility it will help the corporation save around Rs 4,000 a month from each staff. Implementation of this decision will create a win-win situation for both staff and corporation and save around Rs 20 million for the loss-making corporation per annum.
The board’s call to lower the clothing allowance from existing range of Rs 19,000-Rs 21,000 per staff per year to equivalent of other civil servants’ level of Rs 7,500 a year is fair as well. Likewise, double payment of medical allowance (which amounts equal to a month’s salary for a junior staff and two months’ salary for a senior staff) annually as well as at the time of retirement is injudicious. Hence, we urge the NOC staffs to support implementation of the board decision, instead of unreasonably opposing it. More so given that resistance will only defame them and continue to hurt the corporation that is knee-deep in debt.
Over the years, institutional corruption and rampant leakages have made NOC a laughing stock among the public. The latest step by the board aims to salvage NOC’s deteriorating image. It will bring cost benefits to the institution as well as general consumers. Hence, instead of resisting the reform, the NOC staff should readily embrace it. For only such genuine efforts will help create an environment whereby the general public is not forced to raise questions over due hike in petro prices in line with the international trend