Staff at debt-ridden Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) are making an attempt to ‘earn’ huge bonuses, with the help of the apex court.
After the government directed NOC not to distribute bonus to its staff as the corporation has accumulated huge losses, NOC staff a couple of weeks ago knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court (SC) to unlock the bonus distribution. The SC has already issued a show cause notice to NOC over the bonus issue.
Instead of giving a respite to the hard-hit people by increasing the fuel supply in the market and reducing fuel prices in keeping with the plummeting international oil price, NOC and its staff are out to distribute bonuses at any cost, according to Madhav Timilsina, president of the Consumer Rights Investigation Forum .
Earlier in January, the NOC management was learnt to have brought a proposal at its board meeting to distribute Rs 900 million in bonuses even though the corporation owes Rs 12 billion to the government.
In order to ensure the bonus distribution, various labor unions at NOC had filed a writ petition against the government and NOC’s board some weeks before for their obstructive decisions/directions regarding bonus distributions. Responding to the writ petition, the SC last week issued a show cause notice to NOC for not distributing bonus.
“We were forced to knock on the court’s doors as we have been deprived of bonus since a long time although there are legal provisions allowing bonus,” Chandra Prasad Niraula, vice-president of NOC’s Employees Union, told Republica, adding, “We are bound to get bonuses as per the Bonus Act, 2030 which states that an organization should set aside and distribute bonus to its staff from its annual profits.”
In fact, the entire NOC is currently being blamed for engaging in the ‘bonus game’ and showing indifference to the market crisis in fuels, according to Jyoti Baniya, president of Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights.
A technically bankrupt NOC has been hurting consumers badly by unlawfully keeping a huge margin for petrol, kerosene and aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
Moreover, the oil supply monopoly has not reduced fuel prices despite a government directive to do so immediately. Instead, NOC enjoys a Rs 17.54 profit per liter of petrol, Rs 15.81 per liter diesel, Rs 26.80 per liter kerosene and Rs 29.46 per liter of ATF. Of late, NOC is making a monthly profit of Rs 418.7 million.