KATHMANDU, Aug 8: Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) on Wednesday formally approached the home ministry to activate Essential Service Act (ESA) to foil strike of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottlers and prevent scarcity of cooking fuel in the market.
“We have already received the letter from the MoCS. However, as it reached us only in late hours, we could not process it today,” said a senior home ministry official, elaborating that the ministry will proceed ahead to activate the Act, restricting the planned strike of LPG bottlers, on Friday.
Officials said a notification to this effect is likely to be published in the gazette on Monday.
The government has also decided to invite the agitating LPG bottlers for talks in a bid to address their concerns.
“Many of their demands are unfair and untimely. Nonetheless, we held a board meeting of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and issued instructions to its management to promptly call the agitating bottlers for talks,” said Narayan Bidari, director general of Department of Commerce and Supply Management.
The NOC Board decided to invite bottlers for talks after none of the 42 LPG bottling placed order for import on Wednesday as part of their program.
Going by their strike program, the bottlers have threatened of not accepting LPG supply on Thursday and halt import from Friday. They have also announced to bring distribution of refilled cylinders to a halt from August 17 in a bid to press the government to fulfill their demands, which among others, seeks more than two-fold raise in their profit margin and revocation of decision to enforce dual cylinder and pricing.
The bottlers have also demanded that the government set aside a separate fund worth one percent of the total import cost (which at present value stands at around Rs 900 million) to raise public awareness and promote consumer safety.
It has also asked NOC to provide third party insurance for LPG transporters, among others.