Free coupon distribution comes under scrutiny
Time and often Nepal has been crippled with shortage of petroleum products. This has affected daily lives of Nepalese people in many ways. Waiting in queues for several hours for mere 2-3 liters of petrol, it has been troublesome for students, office goers and almost every single person from different walks of live. Corporation’s loss and hence inability to clear debt to Indian Oil Corporation has been cited as the reason for short supply of petroleum products in the country. However, the then Supply Minister’s (Mr. Lekha Raj Bhatta) statement in Kartik, 2068 differed completely with NOC’s statement and exposed the hidden truth that NOC’s been hiding from public. In his statement, Mr. Bhatta stated that the current crisis was the result of management inefficiency and free coupons distributed by NOC. Mr. Taranath Dahal (Freedom Forum) lodged an application using RTI requesting the names of free coupon beneficiaries and the mechanism for eligibility to receive such coupons. He further justified that as a consumer and a tax payer, he is entitled to know. However, to his dismal, NOC replied that there has been no record keeping system for free coupon distribution and thus information could not be disclosed. Mr. Dahal’s case was appealed at National Information Commission. NIC ordered NOC to disclose all information on free coupon system to Mr. Dahal. NOC abided by NIC’s order and disclosed all relevant information. As stated by Shiva Prasad Purasaini (then Director/ Spokesperson of NOC), there has been a complete halt in free coupon distribution and Public Information Officer has been appointed at NOC to promote RTI in public agencies.