A series of protests kicked off by last week's increase in the price of petroleum products has forced the government to increase the quota of kerosene to be distributed at subsidised rates. Each family will now get five litres of subsidised kerosene, the Ministry of Commerce said.
Kerosene is used mainly for lighting in the villages and for cooking by urban and semi-urban populations, mainly from the middle and lower middle classes. Rationed kerosene is sold at Rs 15.50 per litre while kerosene sells in the open market at Rs 26 per litre.
The government maintains that price hikes have resulted from the upward shift in global oil prices and that the rates would be revised should international prices fall.
All opposition parties have announced protests against the increase in the price of petroleum products one of which, announced by a group of nine small communist parties, is to culminate in a two-day nation-wide general strike on 16-17 November. The Nepal Oil Corporation says it faces a loss of Rs 10 per litre of subsidised kerosene, which means that the subsidy burden could be as high as Rs 900 million if 40,000 families are to be provided the subsidised fuel. Last year NOC supplied 319,158 kilolitres of diesel and 298,351 kilolitres of kerosene.