Thukten Zangpo 

The foreign affairs ministry will take up the fuel price difference issue between Bhutan and India with India’s foreign ministry.

Foreign minister, Dr Tandi Dorji, during the Meet the Press session on May 6, said that the economic affairs ministry had compiled a report and it would be submitted to the foreign ministry this week.

He said that the government would have to understand where the issue really is before taking it up with the Indian counterparts.

Foreign minister said that the fuel base prices between Bhutan and India had a difference from Nu 26 to Nu 30.

Oil companies say that the difference is because of an increase in freight charges.

“We would like them to give us the correct break-up,” Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said, adding that the fuel price break-up shared by the Indian Oil Corporation was “not convincing”.

Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji said the government is carrying out an analysis before renewing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the oil companies which expired in 2020.

“We could not negotiate because of the lockdowns and we have the opportunity to renegotiate the details,” he added.

Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji also said that all the prices and commercial details are done with the oil companies and that the price offered to Bhutan has no connection to the pricing in the Indian market. “We are still trying to understand more at the level of the PSUs oil companies.”

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said the MoU used to be between the department of trade and PSUs (Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corp Limited, and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Limited) for getting supplies.

When it comes to pricing and handling cost, however, it is between the PSUs and oil dealers in Bhutan. “Both the governments are not involved in dictating prices,” Lyonpo said.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government would negotiate fuel prices with the Indian government on its own merit.

“It is based on trust for generations and leaders of the two countries have trusted each other for so many decades,” Lyonchhen said.