KATHMANDU, April 17: The government is starting distribution of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) customer cards to general consumers from Tuesday.
“We will start the distribution by handing over a card to Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai,” said Commerce and Supplies Minister Lekh Raj Bhatta.
Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has arranged for LPG dealers, who function as retail hands of LPG bottlers in different localities, to start card distribution to the general public right from Tuesday, said a corporation official.
The government is issuing cards to LPG customers in a bid to regulate the gas distribution and supplies. For the purpose, NOC has readied four million cards, including 2.5 million cards for household consumers and 1.5 million for commercial users.
Household consumers will get red cards and commercial users blue cards.
Bhatta said all LPG consumers will eventually need to possess a card to get hold of LPG.
Once the card distribution is completed, Bhatta said, the government plans to introduce dual pricing for LPG. Those possessing red cards will be supplied gas at a subsidized rate, while commercial users like hotels, restaurants, vehicles and other industries will need to pay more.
Dual pricing has been planned mainly to plug losses, as 40 percent of total LPG imported by the country is consumed by commercial users. If the government manages to implement the plan effectively, NOC officials said the corporation´s losses, which now stand at Rs 802 per cylinder (of 14.2 kg) and total around Rs 1 billion per month, will shrink by Rs 400 million.
However, experts and NOC sources doubt such a positive outcome as the government has not put in any mechanism to control misuse of the red cards.
“Uncontrolled distribution could result in over-distribution of red cards. And given that cylinders being used by householders and business ventures are the same, it will be pretty difficult to control the leakage,” said the NOC source.
To do away with such probable anomaly, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament had earlier instructed the government to first differentiate cylinders to be used by household and commercial consumers.
Earlier, Bhatta had also announced that he would introduce 19-kg cylinders for commercial users. But he dropped the idea after LPG bottlers protested.