Days Of Scarcity Are Not Over Yet : Uttam Maharjan

The supply situation in the country has remained topsy-turvy for the last five months. In the beginning, there was a blockade at several Nepal-India border points due to the Madhes agitation. Later, the spate of protests dwindled except at the Birgunj-Raxaul border point. The sit-in at the border continued despite several pleas by the government to the Indian establishment.

Sufferings

The blockade and the Madhes agitation inflicted untold suffering on the people. Black marketing of essential commodities soared high apparently in collusion with the government. A kind of parallel economy virtually supplanted the legitimate economy. On the one hand, the people continued to suffer for no fault of theirs, while on the other thousands of factories closed down during the harrowing times, thus disorienting the economy.

When essential commodities, including petroleum products, were pouring into the country from all border points except the Birgunj-Raxaul border point, the NOC said that the supply situation would not be normal till the Birgunj-Raxaul border was opened. At the time, even though there was sufficient reserve of petroleum products, they were not sent to the market.

Now, the Birgunj-Raxaul border point has been in operation since February 12, 2016. The IOC has also increased the supply of petroleum products, and increased quantities of petroleum products are coming to the country through the Birgunj-Raxaul border point. Still, the supply situation remains as it was in the past during the time of scarcity. The NOC has said that there will be fuel rationing till a few days, but the people are still finding it heavy going to procure the fuel.

It is not understandable why the NOC is hesitating to supply all the fuel stations with adequate quantities of fuel so as to root out the fuel scarcity. Long queues of vehicles can still be seen in front of various fuel stations. On the other hand, the NOC has said that it will take some more time for cooking gas to be readily available in the market. This has given an apparent signal that the times of scarcity still persist.

With this unfavourable situation still persisting, one in tempted to doubt the distribution system of the NOC. And it can be surmised that the black marketeers are still on the go although on a smaller scale. 

The functioning of the NOC has cast doubt on the efficiency of the corporation. It is an irony that the people are still balked of procuring petroleum products despite their adequate supply. So there will be nothing wrong if one suspects that the NOC’s intentions are not unimpeachable and that it is completely indifferent towards the sufferings of the people.

It is the time for the government to monitor the reserves of petroleum products and the distribution channels. The NOC tends to distribute fuel to government-owned fuel stations most of the time. As the supply of petroleum products is increasing, all other fuel stations should be supplied with adequate fuel. This will ease the supply situation in short order.

The government should make no bones about taking action against those officials with the NOC that are playing spoilsport in the distribution channels. The people have suffered a lot and it will be foolish to try their patience further.

The chaotic distribution system raises a pertinent question. Is not the NOC still in collusion with the black marketeers to fleece the people? If so, the venal attitude of some NOC officials must be investigated. It is alleged that the NOC is a centre of corruption. Cases of corruption and irregularities abound in the NOC. Due to such rampant corruption, the condition of the NOC is going downhill. On the other hand, when there is some profit, the NOC officials make haste to distribute bonus instead of recouping the past losses.

The NOC is a government monopoly dealing in petroleum products. It is the duty of the corporation to distribute petroleum products in a fair and partial manner. But the activities of the corporation over the last five months show otherwise. The corporation is alleged to be in cahoots with the government and black marketeers, thus transcending the principles of business ethics.

Despite the irregularities in the NOC, the government has not mustered the courage to punish the erring officials. Rather, the government seems to be hand in glove with the corrupt officials of the NOC. This is one of the main reasons the distribution system of the NOC has gone haywire amid abundance of supplies much to the agony and outcry of the people. The people are quite helpless and hapless. What they can do is entreat the government to press the NOC to bring the topsy-turvy distribution system back on track.

Venal motive

It is against business ethics to give suffering to the people from their venal motives. The NOC should keep this in mind and immediately streamline the distribution system for the relief of the people. After all, the NOC is a public entity to be dedicated to the respite of the people. It should never take advantage of its monopoly. The government should also be alert to the activities of the NOC and take correctives and penal action against the erring officials. If the NOC functions effectively, it will be able to restore its tarnished image.  

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