Talks between the government and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) bottlers failed as bottlers stuck to their demands.
The government asked the bottlers to reduce the commission but Nepal LP Gas Industry Association refused, said assistant spokesperson at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Deepak Raj Pandey. "The next round of talks will bring some fruitful result, if bottlers agree to reduce their commission," he said, adding that the ministry has called for the next round of talks on Monday.
The association has demanded a hike in bottling commission from Rs 28 per cylinder to Rs 57.92, citing the increasing transportation and overhead costs. However, Nepal LP Gas Industry Association has no expectations in the next round of talks too. "There is no possibility for us to back down from our demand as we are losing Rs 23 per cylinder," said general secretary at the association Kush Kumar Malli. We will continue with our protest from tomorrow, he added.
The association stopped buying Purchase Delivery Order from May 29 and has planned to close down all dealers and depots from June 4.
However, consumers and top government officials have cast doubts on their motive. Actually, they want to stop the provision of dual-cylinders, said a top official at the ministry. "The commission hike that the bottlers have demanded is aimed at scuttling the dual-cylinder plan‚" he said.
The government has planned to enforce dual-cylinders — blue for commercial purposes and red for domestic use — from June 15. However, there has been no adequate preparation by bottlers. Just one-third of the 958‚671 domestic consumers have been provided consumer cards that will be used for subsidised cylinders.
Similarly, consumer groups also echoed the government. "The bottlers’ protest is aimed at botching the dual-cylinder plan. The government must act tough against them‚" said president of National Consumer Forum Prem Lal Maharjan‚ calling on the government to impose the essential service law to ensure smooth supply of gas.
The country has a monthly demand of about 16,000 metric tonnes of cooking gas. About 1.1 million families have been using LPG for cooking and heating purposes and there are more than four million cylinders in the market.Meanwhile, today afternoon, the LPG Gas Dealers Association has asked the government to exempt VAT like gold and silver, and kerosene dealers. The commission of cooking gas cylinder stands at Rs 30, they said, asking the finance minister to increase commission to five per cent to the retail cooking gas dealers. "We should also be allowed to sell more than two companies' cooking gas cylinders," they demanded.