The win-win idea that you provide to cut Nepal's fossil fuel imports ('Oil and politics don't mix', #230) is an excellent way out of the present crisis. But you underestimate the amount of electricity that Nepal wastes every year due to 'spill', it is actually closer to one billion units and the price of this would be closer to Rs 3 billion a year. This is the energy that isn't used and can't be sold domestically because of the peculiar problem we have of over supply of electricity during the monsoon months when the demand is lowest. But there is a huge energy hungry market right across the border in northern India. Your idea of bartering this excess energy for refined petroleum products from India is brilliant. Someone should start working on it and not just launch street protests and bemoan the fuel price hike.
S B Shrestha,
. The street protests following the oil price hike is symbolic of the utter disregard Nepali politicians both in (UML) and out (NC) of government have for national interest.
If he was minister now instead of his brother, Ram Sharan Mahat would have no option but to raise the price of petroleum. But he's going to fight it tooth and nail because his party is out on the streets. Similarly for the UML, it wants to have its cake and eat it too. Either way, the Nepali people suffer.
. I agree with Kunda Dixit's economic and market logic in 'Adding fuel to the fire' (#230) but he does not address the issue of how to reduce the burden of the fuel price increase for the poor people: 77 percent of Nepalis who don't use kerosene, according to Bhusan Tuladhar. It is called cross-subsidy and you do it by using the surcharge in aviation fuel and petrol to subsidise kerosene. The problem is that even after the fuel price increase there is a shortage of kerosene and diesel in the market. So what was the point? What is the point in reducing the excise on plastic bags? What is the point in increasing the allowance for civil servants who form only two percent of the population? Why doesn't the government prioritise renewable energy? Why are environmental activists sleeping?
. Why don't the political vandals get it? There has been a 30 percent increase in world oil prices. The government actually tried to hold on to fuel price increase as long as possible. You can't just keep saying: "We are a poor country we want cheap fuel." You have to do something about it: reduce dependence on imported fuel and concentrate on what we have in abundance which is hydropower.
The price of oil is never going to come down, so let's start substituting oil wherever possible. Electric vehicles and cars can be perfect for Kathmandu and other major cities. But the government has yet to let anyone import a private electric vehicle because of controversy about the tax rebate on e-vehicles.
So, instead of rioting in the streets against the fuel price hike, the student unions should be pressuring the government to open up the import of electric vehicles.
. It is not surprising that Nepal Oil Corporation raised fuel prices. What is surprising is it took them so long to do it. Is it because their pricing has been flawed from the outset? Why doesn't NOC explain to us laymen how they have come up with their pricing system, not just the increment? Secondly, it always intrigues me how our government is fast on the draw to raise taxes, prices etc. Electricity prices have been raised by about 30 percent in the past 2-3 years. This was supposed to be something Nepal is rich in. Now, the VAT has been increased. VAT is a relatively new tax, doesn't it make more sense for the government to increase the number of businesses registering and paying the VAT, rather than burdening current payers of VAT with more tax?