At a time when fuel supply situation seems to be normalising, a private firm has sought government permission to sell petrol at a price which is 56 per cent higher than the market rate.
Birat Petroleum Pvt Ltd has sought approval from Department of Commerce to sell petrol in the retail market at Rs 155 a litre in the Kathmandu Valley.
BPPL, which had imported five tankers around 97,000 litres of petrol in January, and had set the price of petrol at Rs 190 per litre during the fuel crisis, has imported a similar quantity of fuel at present.
It has sought DoC’s approval to sell petrol in the retail market in the Kathmandu Valley through dealers of Nepal Oil Corporation.
As all the fuel stations in the country are authorised dealers of NOC, BPPL needs the government’s permission to sell its product in the retail market.
Earlier too, it had sold its product in the retail market through NOC’s dealers after receiving permission from DoC. The government at that time had allowed BPPL to sell petrol in retail market due to the fuel crisis in the country.
But this time around, DoC has not yet decided on allowing BPPL to sell its product in the retail market.
Currently, NOC has fixed Rs 99 for a litre of petrol. It is to be seen whether DoC will allow BPPL to sell petrol at a price that is higher than what NOC has set.
Private firms, which had obtained the licence after the government’s decision to open up import of petroleum products for the private sector on October 11, need to take permission regarding price from DoC to sell their products in the retail market.
As all the fuel stations are authorised dealers of NOC, they can purchase fuel from other parties only after the respective firm gets permission from the government to sell petroleum products in the retail market.
Firms that want to sell petroleum products in the retail market need to take approval from DoC, according to Shambhu Prasad Koirala, director general at DoC.
“Whereas bulk consumers who have been importing petroleum products for their own need and suppliers to bulk consumers do not require any type of permission from DoC.”
DoC had issued licence to 34 firms to import fuel for six months and three among them have informed the department about the start of their business. Currently, BPPL, Karmam Bhagyam Co Pvt Ltd and Samriddhi Oil have been importing fuel.
According to DoC, except BPPL, all the firms have been directly supplying fuel to their buyers who are bulk consumers.
Private sector firms have been allowed to import fuel on a temporary basis without fulfilling the basic requirements, such as licence fee, paid-up capital requirement and storage facility, set by the government for private companies that want to be involved in the petroleum business for the long term.
Only one private company named Malika Petroleum has obtained licence under this category.
However, the company has said that it will take a few more months to commence business because it needs to set up required infrastructure as per the law.
Meanwhile, Federation of Nepal Petroleum Transport Entrepreneurs has criticised NOC for the prolonged shortage of fuel even after the smooth supply from depots of Indian Oil Corporation.
Talking to The Himalayan Times, FNPTE President Khageshwor Bohara accused NOC of helping the private firms by making the supply erratic so that the private firms could easily sell their products in the market.