In what appears to be the last measure following the failure of various initiatives to urge people, especially in the urban areas to move from subsidized to non-subsidized cooking gas cylinders, the trade department issued a notification last week stating that it would lift the supply of subsidized gas cylinders from the four Thromdes starting January next year.
This means that the residents of the four Thromdes of Thimphu, Gelephu, Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar have almost half a year to handover their blue subsidized gas cylinders and switch over to the green non-subsidized gas cylinders.
The trade department has maintained that it had to come up with this measure after they did everything to address the shortages of subsidized LPG, but failed to convince the users. There is no denying the fact that not many consumers have turned up to switch over to the non-subsidized cylinders.
Even our parliamentarians who are supposed to set an example have failed in giving impetus and momentum to the switch over to the green gas cylinders.
During the trade department’s initiative to sell non-subsidized LPG cylinders on June 21 and June 24 at the parking lot of the National Assembly, only three Members of Parliament, including one from the National Council, took home a non-subsidized cylinder each.
The event then was organized targeting MPs from both the Houses of the Parliament as there was a joint sitting on both days, but no MP showed up on the first day despite the economic affairs ministry informing them about the availability of non-subsidized LPG at the parking lot.
However, a thing for sure is that problem of LPG will continue unless we don’t make use of the non-subsidized LPG cylinders made available to us in the Thromdes. The increase in the population, especially in the number of households, is only going to aggravate the problem. The problem is only going to escalate with many Thimphu households still keeping three or more cylinders in their homes.
Meanwhile, one major reason why people are reluctant to switch over to the non-subsidized green gas cylinders is because of the price. Many feel that the price of the green cylinder is exorbitant, even if it’s a little more than by around Nu 200 compared to the blue cylinder which can be refilled at around Nu 530. It’s, therefore, also worth asking whether saving around Nu 200 is worth the rush, chaos, traffic jam, waiting in long queue, wasting time waiting, and sometimes going back home empty handed.
The solution to the LPG problem for now is how properly we channel the supply of subsidized and non-subsidized gas cylinders so that there is proper and equal reach. We must ensure that subsidies reach to the right people. We have the opportunity here to make it go to the right people. We have the responsibility to make it reach the deserving people.
And we must not underestimate the value of advocacy: imparting to people the knowledge that a little sacrifice on the side of the privileged few can benefit a lot of people who are economically challenged. At first, it might seem like banging our head against a wall, but good causes don’t give up. That’s how hope is borne.