POKHARA, Dec 3: After the new policy decision, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has said only authorized dealers complying with the standards set by the government would be allowed to retail liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the popular cooking fuel.
At present, many retail outlets are selling the cooking gas even though they are not authorized to. As a result of this, customers have been facing difficulty in getting hold of LPG whenever import dwindles. The unauthorized retailers have also been compelling consumers to pay more during scarcity.
Speaking at a function organized in Pokhara on Monday, acting managing director of NOC Suresh Kumar Agrawal said it was mandatory for the dealers to register as per the policy and they should take VAT and PAN registration. “At present, grocery stores, vegetable shops, tea stalls and others are selling cooking gas but our new policy will make the transaction safe and organized,” he said.
He said that gas dealers should have enough space to keep the empty and filled cylinders. “ We are determined to discourage unorganized trade of LPG cylinder,” he added.
He further said the corporation was soon coming up with a new policy that would require bottlers to operate with two differently colored cylinders. Though gas bottlers have been opposing such a policy, Agrawal said the government would make them retail LPG to household consumers in red colored cylinders and to commercial users in blue colored cylinders.
“Majority of the traders are still not in favor of the government´s decision. But if they refused to comply, we will take action against those defying the instruction,” he said, adding that the corporation would stop issuing gas to such bottlers.
Gyaneshwor Aryal, president of Federation of LP Gas Dealers, said they were in favor of the government´s policy to introduce dual cylinders in the market to manage supplies. He said that the LPG dealers, who retail the product, were initially confused on the issue. "But we are positive about it," he stated.
Meanwhile, the corporation is starting distribution of consumer card. Agrawal on Monday handed over the customer card application forms to the dealers, asking them to forward them to the customers and recollect them with name, address and other details of customers. The card will enable consumers to get the gas and also entitle them to subsidy.
NOC is preparing to hike the LPG price, raising it to the level of break-even price (that is equal to import rate), as it is currently suffering loss of millions of rupees, according to the officials. "We are facing a loss of Rs 653 per cylinder of LPG at present. Once the system of two colored cylinders is implemented, we will be able to slash this loss by a substantial amount,” said Agrawal.
Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Lilamani Joshi said the government was preparing to provide subsidy on LPG to household consumers only. “ We are yet to finalize the amount of subsidy though,” he added.
At present, Nepal has 60 LPG bottling companies operating in the country. Together, they retail around 1.21 million cylinders of gas in the market every month.