Setting an example the minister and ministry officials gave up subsidized gas cylinders
The Minister for the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) Lyonpo Lekey Dorji launched the non-subsidized LPG scheme on Friday to supplement the subsidized LPG scheme.
Around 1,000 metric tonnes of non subsidized LPG supply every month would encourage the limited supply of subsidized LPG to the rural areas and the poor.
The minister said that the MoEA urges those who are better off to voluntarily give up subsidized LPG and take non-subsidized LPG instead.
The refundable cylinder cost of a non-subsidized cylinder is Nu 1,650 compared to Nu 1,450 for a subsidized cylinder.
The refill cost of a non-subsidized cylinder is Nu 815 compared to Nu 537 for a subsidized cylinder.
However, for those who can afford paying the extra bucks, the convenience will be no requirement for LPD card, no requirement for e-coupon and also no monthly restriction on refilling cylinders.
Bhutan has a monthly quota of 750 metric tonnes of subsidized cylinders. Ironically, in the past and even now, most of these subsidized cylinders are supplied and used in the more well off urban areas.
Lyonpo said that the Ministry shall soon be requesting all big business houses, ministers, secretaries, MPs, Justices, Director Generals, Directors and chiefs of Divisions, international offices, embassies, and other institutional users to shift to using non-subsidized cylinders from the current subsidized ones.
This, he said, would free up the subsidized LPG for the poor and the needy in rural villages of Bhutan, allowing people to contribute in achieving the vision of our Kings to bridge the gap between the people in urban and rural places in Bhutan.
This minister thanked his colleagues in the Ministry for showing the way by giving up the subsidized LPG this morning.
The general view among members of the public is that the more well off among them would be willing to forego the subsidy to ensure it reaches the poorest and at the same time also avoid the hassles of getting subsidized cylinders.
In India, the subsidized cylinders are actually meant for families who are below the poverty line and are very poor and backward especially in its remote rural areas. Large numbers of Indians from the middle and upper middle class have been voluntarily giving up their subsidized cylinders in recent years so that the really poor and marginal people (for whom it is meant) can benefit from them.
There has been some confusion in some quarters on whether the introduction of the non-subsidized cylinders is linked in some way to the 2018 polls or are a method to pressurize Bhutan.
The fact on the ground that is Bhutan will continue getting the same 750 MT of subsidized cylinders even at a time when India is cutting down on its own gas subsidy by diverting it to the really poor. The additional 1000 MT of non-subsidized cylinders was requested by the Bhutan government and is aimed at the more affluent buyers who do not mind paying extra to get as many cylinders as possible with no paper work and inconvenience.