Aug 28, 2018-The country’s fuel import bill surged 43.1 percent in fiscal 2017-18 to Rs170.13 billion as a rising dollar, increased smuggling and jump in crude oil prices took their toll.
Despite reduced load-shedding hours, oil imports continued to soar, further widening the trade deficit, officials said. The fuel import bill accounted for around 14 percent of the country’s total import spending in the last fiscal year.
According to Nepal Rastra Bank’s macroeconomic report, Nepal’s import expenditure saw a whopping Rs60 billion rise in the last fiscal year after moderating between 2013-14 and 2016-17. Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) blamed the high import bill on gasoline smuggling into India and a depreciation of the Nepali rupee against the US dollar.
NOC’s annual statistics show that fuel imports increased around 20 percent in the last fiscal year. As per the state-owned oil monopoly, petrol imports rose 20 percent to 484,781 kilolitres, diesel imports went up 23 percent to 1,597,551 kilolitres while aviation fuel imports increased 18 percent to 370,560 tonnes over the period. NOC Acting Managing Director Sushil Bhattarai said the rise in fuel imports was normal. “A stronger greenback and higher oil prices in the international market are among the main reasons behind the sharp increase in the country’s import bill,” Bhattarai said.
During the review period, petroleum prices in the international market swelled up to $75 per barrel from $46 per barrel. The exchange rate of the dollar rose to Rs112 from Rs102. Moreover, rampant cross-border smuggling of gasoline into India due to the difference in prices forced the corporation to hike imports to ensure adequate stocks and forestall shortages.
The NOC report shows that petrol costs Rs26.89 less per litre in Nepal compared to India. Diesel costs Rs29.09 less per litre in the domestic market. “Due to this reason, many Indian vehicles enter Nepal just to fill their tanks,” Bhattarai said.
Source : The Kathmandu Post