KATHMANDU, April 29: Consumers will finally start receiving their liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) customer cards, which will entitle them to regularly receive the popular cooking fuel, from Sunday.
Nepal LPG Retailers Federation, which has been entrusted by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) with distributing the cards, said cards will be issued through nearby retailers that have been supplying the gas in the past.
“Consumers should approach their nearby dealers, full up a form that the LPG retailer will issue to them and submit documents proving they are genuine consumers. On submission of the documents, the retailer will issue the card instantly,” said Arjun Devkota, acting president of the Federation.
The Federation has priced the forms at Rs 10 and asked customers not to pay retailers more than that. The customers will need to attach a photocopy of their citizenship certificate and also a letter from the landlord certifying their residential status in a given locality, while submitting the form. They need not make any additional payment.
“Some 1,800 LPG dealers, who serve as retailers for gas bottlers in Kathmandu Valley, have already been supplied with the forms and cards,” Devkota told Republica.
Although the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS), which issued the first card to Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai on April 17, had announced it would start distributing customer cards to the general public immediately, it had trouble standing by its word after retailers dragged their feet.
Under its directives, MoCS had announced that it would ban sale of LPG from groceries and other mixed retail outlets, and urged gas dealers to register separately and open exclusive LPG retail outlets within a month. The retailers, however, protested the decision, saying it would inflict additional costs on them.
“So far, 1,800 retailers have already complied and we are distributing the cards through them from Sunday,” said Devkota.
The number of re-registered retailers, however, is around 1,400 less than the existing number of outlets dealing in gas. “What this means is, dealers supplying gas to you so far might not be dealing in gas henceforth. But you need not worry; you can approach any other nearby retailer,” said Devkota.
The Federation has also suggested to consumers not to collect multiple cards even if they are using gas supplied by different companies.
“One customer should take one card only. If the dealer from whom you collect gas is not supplying the brand you use, it will change the cylinder for you without any additional cost,” said Devkota.
However, given that the government has announced a plan to provide subsidized supply based on the cards, officials are doubtful about consumers acting fairly. “And there are equal chances of retailer foul play as well,” said a MoCS official.
NOC has announced that it has readied 4 million customer cards in a bid to regulate LPG distribution. Of that, 2.5 million red cards will be issued to household consumers, while the remaining 1.5 million cards, that are blue, will be distributed to commercial users. All LPG consumers will eventually need to possess a card to get hold of LPG.