Thukten Zangpo

Many netizens expressed concern over Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji’s WeChat voice message about the government’s inability to control the rising fuel prices and possible fuel shortage.

He also talked about the increase in fuel prices in India and the world has an impact on Bhutan. “The government is discussing with the Indian government on the fuel price difference of about Nu 8 and Nu 9 between India and Bhutan.”

According to the voice message, there is an increase in fuel prices now, but after two to three months, there could be a shortage of fuel supply. “Not only fuel prices could hike three times in a month but could hike thrice in a week.”

The minister also claimed that the government is waiting for their tenure to complete or is ready to hand over the governance to a new government.

It was learnt that the minister said it in a group chat of his constituency on May 18, but it was screen recorded and circulated in all social media platforms.

A netizen said that everyone is aware of the Ukraine-Russia crisis and this challenging time is to act instead of talking and creating fear in people.

He said people do not expect the government to surrender, but citizens will make a decision during the election.

Some even said that the foreign minister should resolve the high fuel price difference between India and Bhutan.

Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji told Kuensel that there is a shortage of fuel supply globally because of the conflict in Europe. “We all have to stock up because the conflict is real.”

He also said there might be a time Bhutan might face a shortage of fuel if the conflict keeps going. “Everybody has to ration fuel. People are intelligent enough to know what happened.”

The minister said that his voice message went viral because of his statement about the government’s willingness to hand over governance to the next government. “People of my constituency have asked the question and I responded as a representative of them. But people have spread the message as a foreign minister. It is very different.”

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the people rushed to the Damchen Petroleum Distributors in Khuruthang, Punakha, to refuel their cars, and people were found stocking fuel in jerry cans on May 19.

A source said that about 1,800 litres of petrol are sold on usual days but the fuel depot sold 3,700 litres on May 19.

He also said most people came to refuel or stock because of the rumours of fuel price hikes and supply shortage in the coming months. “People were refuelling car’s full tanks and people were even stocking 50 to 60 litres in jerry cans. This is unusual as people refuel for Nu 500 mostly.”

He added that a villager also takes 50 to 80 litres of diesel in jerry cans unlike only 20 litres before. “About 80 to 90 people rushed on May 19 to fill their jerry cans,” the source said.

Villagers take diesel to use in the power tillers for the paddy plantation and plantation in Punakha begins early next month.

According to the source, he informed the people that there would be a change in the fuel prices since Bhutan import from India, but there would not be a shortage in supply.