March 16: The average monthly consumption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Nepal is 38,000 metric tonnes, according to a recent notice published by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) after the market witnessed shortage of cooking gas despite the normal supply.
The state-owned NOC then decided to increase the import of cooking gas to 45,000 metric tonnes per month to meet the growing demand.
Looking at the data of Birgunj Customs Point, the import of LPG from this entry point alone is sufficient to meet the demand of cooking gas for the whole country. According to the Birgunj Customs Office, a total of 38,000 metric tonnes of cooking gas was imported from this transit point between mid-February to mid-March. But the consumers did not get smooth supply of LPG despite normal supply.
The NOC has increased the import of cooking gas ever since the shortage of LPG appeared some weeks ago. Although the government has time and again claimed that it has increased the supply of LPG, the serpentine line of consumers at gas depots have not reduced at all. People have not stopped queuing for LPG despite government’s assurance of adequate supply of cooking gas. This is the first time since the economic blockade of 2015 that people in such a large number are seen in serpentine queue to get cooking gas.
The shortage of cooking gas and other daily essentials has appeared in the market due to the fear of coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to more than 100 countries across the world.
Businessmen have reportedly started hoarding essential goods to make profit in case there is border closure amid coronavirus fears while the consumers have started panic shopping.
This is clearly evident from the fact that Birgunj Customs Point importing more than required amount of LPG during normal time but the market still reeling under shortage of cooking gas. The customs point saw entry of 37,000 metric tonnes of LPG in between mid-January to mid-February, which was increased to 38,000 metric tonnes the following month.
On Sunday, 90 bullets unloaded LPG at this customs point while 30 bullets of LPG had arrived a day ago.
But artificial shortage of cooking gas is still prevalent in the market due to the collusion of the dealers and suppliers. The government has failed to effectively regulate such malpractice despite being well aware of the situation.