The trade department’s initiative to take non-subsidised LPG to the National Assembly parking lot for Members of Parliament to buy at their convenience on June 21 and 24 met with a lukewarm response.

Consumers can buy non-subsidised LPG while continuing to use their subsidised cylinders. However, the government wants MPs and those who can afford to surrender their subsidised cylinders in exchange for the non-subsidised ones.

The idea is improve the supply system and make subsidised LPG available to rural and underprivileged households.

However, no MP showed up on the first day despite the economic affairs minister informing them about the availability of non-subsidised LPG at the parking lot. Two Toyota Hilux loads of non-subsidised cylinders were parked at the parking lot.

The event was organised targeting MPs from both Houses of Parliament as there was a joint sitting on both the days. 

“Although there was no positive response today, the department is hopeful that the Hon’ble MPs will come forward to support the citizen’s initiative on Monday, June 24, 2019,” the department posted on its Facebook page as all the cylinders returned unsold on the first day. 

On June 24, only three MPs, including one from National Council (NC), took a non-subsidised cylinder each.

Economic affairs minister Loknath Sharma said in the House that most of the MPs had not availed the non-subsidised LPG. “Time has come for us to act and solve the LPG shortage,” he said requesting MPs to switch to non-subsidised LPG.

However, ruling party MPs Kuensel talked to claimed they had already bought more than one cylinder each.

Athang-Thedtsho MP Kinley Wangchuk said that he had bought two non-subsidised cylinders two weeks back. According to him, most of the MPs from the ruling party were using non-subsidised LPG.

Claiming that he bought two non-subsidised cylinders earlier, Menbi-Tsenkar MP Kinga Penjor said MPs alone availing non-subsidised cylinders would not make much difference. “We have to create awareness among people.”

Opposition spokesperson and Panbang MP, Dorji Wangdi, claimed that he had bought two cylinders in his constituency. But he said he had bought two sets of electric oven as an alternative to LPG for use in Thimphu.

NC member from Bumthang, Nima, said that he would get his non-subsidised LPG after the session.

Our Gyenkhu, an initiative of voluntarily switching to non-subsidised LPG by citizens was initiated in April. According to the economic affairs minister, about 7,000 non-subsidised cylinders were distributed during the last three months.

The department has also facilitated the exchange of cylinders with officials in the ministry. Officials said that many private individuals have already bought non-subsidised cylinders.

At the launch of “Our Gyenkhu”, the prime minister, ministers, the opposition leader, National Council Chairperson, Chief Justice, Chairperson of Anti-Corruption Commission, Attorney General and the Auditor General together surrendered 21 subsidised cylinders in April. The move was aimed at creating awareness among people.

The refill price difference between subsidised and non-subsidised LPG in Thimphu is about Nu 300 per cylinder. Non-subsidized LPG and refill services are available from all three existing LPG dealers.

Consumers need not produce LPG card or MCoupon for exchange or purchase of non-subsidized LPG, according to officials.

Today, Bhutan imports 700MT of subsidised LPG and 1,000MT of non-subsidised LPG monthly.

MB Subba