The government bowed down to pressure of petroleum traders' syndicate and decided today to withhold implementation of Petroleum and Gas Trading Monitoring Directives-2013.
"After the talks with the minister for Commerce and Supplies Shankar Koirala today afternoon, the government has decided to withhold implementation of the directives," informed coordinator of the struggle committee and president of Nepal Petroleum Transporters’ Association Khageshwor Bohara.
The government has agreed today to bring Petroleum Act through parliament, he said, adding that they have withdrawn all their protest programmes from today.
However, the parliament is not in sight as the election council has not yet fixed the date of election, without which parliament is a distant dream.
Earlier, the government had brought the directives on February 22, and petroleum traders have threatened to take the country hostage from April 7, by completely halting the distribution of petroleum products, if the government did not roll back the directives, which had opened the petroleum business to the private sector.
The petroleum traders' — Nepal LP Gas Industries Association, Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association and Nepal Petroleum Transporters’ Association — syndicate has plagued the country since long making the public suffer time and again.
The government's decision to withhold implementation of directives has strengthened the state oil monopoly — Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) — and petroleum traders, who have been socialising the losses and privatising the profits forcing the consumers to suffer, according to a source at the ministry.
"The private sector's entry in the petroleum business with a strong regulatory mechanism would have weakened state oil monopoly and the traders bargaining power and consumers would have benefitted," he said, adding that the state oil monopoly has failed to ensure smooth supply of the petroleum products, despite profits in all the petroleum products except LPG, which reflects the incompetency of the Nepal Oil Corporation and its cartelling with the petroleum traders.