The LPG mess

For all our claims of happiness and ambitious goals it is clear that Bhutan is struggling to even get its basics right.

In every society the basic ability to provide food on the table is followed by the ability to have the means to cook it.

However, the government, helped to a large extent by bureaucratic bungling, is making it difficult to light the kitchen fire.

There is a figurative red tape over the kitchen door with the only keys in the Trade Department which somehow thinks the solution to a simple supply and demand problem is tying it all up with more red tape.

There has always been a LPG shortage problem of varying degrees in the past but the so called solution of LPG consumer cards has made it far worse especially for new families and people seeking new cylinders.

A one additional cylinder after every six years rule sounds like a Communist economic system on its knees.

Bhutan gets 700 metric tonnes of subsidized gas from India.

However, going by reports the distribution companies in Bhutan due to inefficiencies fail to pick up the full quota. Then the companies do a poor job of equitably allocating the LPG stock with some regions getting more or less.

As an Audit report showed there is hiked charges by companies, outdated cylinders and poor monitoring by the trade department.

Commonsense would dictate that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) and the trade department first find out if the three companies are lifting the full quota and if not, then ensure that they do.

The department instead of coming after ordinary families should instead study the problem of distribution of the three companies and find out remedial measures and if necessary take punitive steps.

If there is an actual shortage the MoEA and trade department should inform the government and the government should explore options.

One solution could be exploring asking for a higher quota limit from the friendly Government of India which anyhow already is our largest donor. A few extra cylinders would not require moving mountains.

A more self reliant route would be importing the same LPG domestic gas at a commercial price. The current bigger commercial cylinders are too big, unwieldy and difficult to get.

The solutions can be simple and it does not require tying up everyone in red tape.

“Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible.”
Javier Pascal Salcedo

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