freedom1 Forum’s initiative to make public agencies transparent and accountable is gaining ground in Nepal. Lately, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), a public enterprise with sole rights to distribute petroleum products in the country, has provided incomplete information about the free distribution of petroleum products to the freedom1 Forum (FF) after the directive of the National Information Commission (NIC) on April 9, 2012.

The 75-page long information provided to the FF shows there was no policy and scheme of distributing fuel. The NOC provided the fuel randomly to the bigwigs.

The partial information of the NOC revealed it distributed a total of 37,824 litres of petrol and 29,484 litres of diesel free of cost to the bigwigs since fiscal year 2008-09.

But the list is full of anomalies. NOC failed to provide all vehicle numbers to which it distributed petroleum free of cost. The Executive Chief in the NOC exercised his rights to distribute the fuel.

Distribution of fuel without keeping record points to corruption. Even the numbers that it has provided seem bogus as they don’t mention zones or the alphabets. Coupon numbers mentioned in the list are also not in order. Moreover, there is no buying and selling rate of petroleum products as demanded by the FF.

Seeking information with the NOC about distribution of fuel is an intervention on public enterprise as per the RTI Act to make the enterprise transparent and accountable.

Free distribution of fuel by NOC

2011-12 Petrol – 535 litres Diesel – 590 litres

2010-11 Petrol – 8,936 litres Diesel – 8,740 litres

2009-10 Petrol – 15,812 litres Diesel – 11,014 litres

2008-09 Petrol – 12,541 litre Diesel – 9,140 litres

Earlier, the Information Commission had issued a verdict on March 20, 2012 ordering the Chief of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to compulsorily provide information to the freedom1 Forum about the free distribution of oil, diesel and petrol, and its buying and sales details within 15 days of the verdict, reasoning that it was illegal to deny information by the NOC, a public agency, on this as per the RTI Act 2007.

Also, the Commission summoned NOC Chief to present himself before the Commission to clarify why he could not be punished as per the Act for he denied information sought by the freedom1 Forum as per the Act

The Commission verdict was expected to render great effects and impact on the public bodies like NOC to be transparent by abiding by the RTI Act, but the NOC denied complete information.

freedom1 Forum has, therefore, appealed to the NIC for move clear and complete information about the freed distribution of fuel today.

Earlier, the freedom1 Forum, on March 20, had filed application in the Commission demanding action on the NOC for it denied information violating the RTI Act.

The freedom1 Forum, on December 27, 2011 had filed application addressing NOC Chief demanding the information but he denied it.

freedom1 Forum had sought the following information with NOC for the first time on December 6, 2012:

a)    Complete details about the free coupon of petroleum products distributed to the persons/offices by the NOC since July 17, 2006 till date (name and address of the persons/office getting petroleum products, amount provided and petrol pump and date)

b)     On which basis the NOC has provided the free coupon; photocopies of any policy documents or guidelines or decision if has any

c)    Amount of the petroleum products and LP Gas the NOC purchased and sold, and details of purchase and retail prices since July 17, 2006 (separate purchased amount and sale prices of each time with clear date)

As the NOC is a public body, every Nepali citizen has the ownership on it. Its administrative and financial activities must therefore be transparent to all Nepalis.