KATHMANDU, April 19: Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has said that its petroleum stock has plummeted sharply over the past one week, particularly, after the government´s indifference to its proposal seeking either a hike in the prices or subsidized imports forced it to use the reserve to maintain regular supply.
Holding press meet on Thursday, the state-own petroleum monopolist announced that its oil stock at all depots located in different parts of the country presently stands at meager 15,000 KL, which is just enough to meet 5 days´ normal consumption. Its total storage capacity is 72,000 KL.
“It is true we are receiving fuel every day, but because we did not make enough payment for additional supply we have not been able to replenish the stock. Instead we are consistently using it to ensure normal fuel availability in the market,” said Suresh Kumar Agrawal, acting managing director of the corporation.
Referring to such low reserve, the corporation officials cautioned the country could face yet another spate of fuel scarcity if the government did not immediately pledged loans to finance normal imports.
“We are already under a debt of over Rs 20 billion and set to suffer a loss of Rs 1.55 billion this month,” said Agrawal, adding that he has already asked Ministry of Commerce and Supplies to press the government to provide Rs 5 billion to plug the existing fund gap. “Without the support we can´t step up imports and replenish our stock.”
Agrawal said government´s indecisiveness must be held responsible if the country faces scarcity now. “We cannot import enough fuel while incurring a monthly loss of one-and-a-half billion rupee,” he said.
Insisting that automatic pricing mechanism was the only way out of the crisis, Agrawal said the government should allow it execute a policy of adjusting domestic oil prices in line with the international trend.
“We will be doomed if the State continued to shun such pricing reforms,” said Agrawal, adding that consumers should not expect normal supply of fuel, unless they are willing to pay what the actual price of the fuels.
If the government does not want to burden people with price hike and still want NOC to maintain normal supply, it should set create a price stabilization fund of Rs 10 billion so that NOC could manage imports using this fund, said Agrawal.