Wednesday, May 29, 2013

LPG consumers warn of protests

Consumers are planning to protest against the government and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) bottlers if there is a shortage of cooking gas in the market. The government and agitating LPG bottlers must mutually solve their problems and ensure smooth supply, said president of National Consumer Forum Prem Lal Maharjan, in an interaction, today.
Consumers will not remain silent if there is a shortage of LPG cylinders in the market. People will come out on the streets, he warned. "Consumers should not suffer due to the tug-of-war between the government and LPG bottlers," he said. He suggested that the government should enforce the Essential Service Act to maintain smooth supply of cooking gas. People are not ready to pay for the benefit of bottlers, he added.
Nepal LP Gas Industries Association has announced a protest from today to build pressure on the government to fulfil their demands. Among their demands, one is of commission hike from Rs 28 to Rs 57.92 per cylinder. The bottlers have asked for a hike in commission saying that overhead costs have increased in the last two years. However, the association has not furnished the details of overhead costs.
About 50 LPG bottling plants stopped purchasing Purchase Delivery Order (PDO) -- a right given to bottlers to import LPG from refineries of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) -- from Wednesday. The association has planned to close down LPG dealers and depots from June 4.
Our demands are genuine, so the government must fulfil them, said president of the association Shiva Prasad Ghimire. "If the government does not fulfil our demands and imposes the Essential Service Act we will fight against it," he warned. We are all prepared for it. The protest plan will not be stopped until we have achieved our goal, he added.
However, the government has been reluctant in hiking the commission. "We can consider on transportation cost but commission will not be hiked in totality," said acting general manager of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) — the sole authority to import petroleum products, including LPG, in the country — Suresh Kumar Agrawal. NOC does not want to increase the burden on consumers by increasing the commission, he said.
Nepal LP Gas Industries Association has started its protest programmes to disrupt the government's decision to enforce dual cylinders from June 15. It is not prepared for it. The association and its dealers and depots have distributed consumer cards to just one-third of the 958‚671 consumers identified across the country.
"We are still not prepared for dual cylinders," said general secretary of the association Kush Prasad Malli, in a press meet, on Monday. The association will not follow the dual cylinder provision — blue for commercial purposes and red for household use.
About 1.1 million families and commercial enterprises have been using LPG across the country. There is a monthly demand of about 16‚000 metric tonnes of cooking gas. However, NOC has been bearing a loss of Rs 430.50 per cylinder currently.

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