It has to pay extra Rs. 10 per litre of diesel as a bulk consumer
The State government’s delay in permitting the KSRTC to fill fuel from retail outlets is expected to deal a hard blow to the agency which is already incurring a monthly loss of Rs. 75 crore.
Though a committee has been formed to study the issue, there seems to be no solution in sight despite the agency’s loss expected to increase by another Rs. 15 crore per month on this count.
The agency pays an additional Rs. 10 per litre of diesel, after it was listed as a bulk purchaser of the fuel. This has increased the disparity between the operational expenses of the KSRTC and private buses, since the latter fill subsidized diesel from retail outlets.
The KSRTC has already sought a waiver of the 19.8 per cent sales tax that goes to the State’s coffers for every litre of diesel purchased.
Its Managing Director, K. G. Mohanlal, said that the issue will not affect the KSRTC for two months since the government has promised to provide Rs. 28 crore to tide over the crisis. “Our bigger concern is our monthly pension expenditure of Rs. 35 crore,” he said.
The agency also has to repay about Rs 1,200 crore taken as loan to pay pension.
State-run buses in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have already begun re-fuelling from retail outlets, despite initial hiccups like long queues of buses awaiting their turn.
The Kerala State Petroleum Traders’ Association had expressed willingness to provide diesel to KSRTC buses from retail outlets. Its joint secretary R. Sabarinath wondered why the RTC is being denied subsidized diesel, at a time when cell-phone towers are purchasing subsidized diesel for their generators.
The State government has to take a decision based on the suggestions by an expert committee. The fuel filled from retailers will have to be properly accounted for. This is apart from the arrangements that will have to be made on days when fuel dealers might go on strike, said senior KSRTC officials.
The early morning and late evening hours would be ideal to fill fuel from retailers, since each of the around 4,000 buses would require over 75 litres of diesel daily. Smart cards can be used to foot the bill, sources said.