Mumbai petrol dealers say they are unprepared for daily price change
With the dynamic system of fuel pricing all set to make a debut across the nation from tomorrow, petrol pump owners in the city feel the liabilities of the public sector oil companies have been conveniently pushed on to their heads.
This initiative follows the successful implementation of the pilot project in Udaipur, Jamshedpur, Vishakhapatnam, Chandigarh and Puducherry from May 1. However, petrol pump owners in the city feel this decision that will affect roughly 223 petrol pumps in Mumbai alone, was taken without their consensus.
According to Ravi Shinde, President of Petrol Dealers Association, Mumbai, the biggest roadblock in this system is that most petrol pumps are not automated. As of now, only 40 per cent of the petrol pumps in Mumbai are automated.
“Only a person who is of the stature of an owner or manager can touch the panel for changing prices. We have to come and change the prices every day personally for 365 days. This task cannot be delegated to anyone as it comes with a lot of responsibility,” said Chetan Modi, Secretary of Petrol Dealers Association, Mumbai and the owner of Amar Automobiles, Matunga.
Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan met representatives of petrol pump owners and changed the time of price change from 12am to 6am. He also said the automation of petrol pumps will be completed “on a war footing”.
According to a petrol pump owner in Wadala, it is too early to implement this move. “The government needs to get the infrastructure in place before going ahead with this move,” he said.
As per the existing system, the price change takes place every fortnight, thereby giving dealers enough time to get an inkling of market prices and accordingly decide the quantity they should stock. They were able to balance their losses by increasing or reducing the quota of fuel they order.
“The cost price is fixed and we have to make the payment before the refinery closes everyday. With the selling price changing everyday, we will have absolutely no control over our losses,” said Chetan. He added that dealers from cities where the project was implemented on a pilot mode have also expressed their disappointment as the prices experience a dip on most days and their profit margins are eroded away.
Petrol pump owners will be forced to offer different prices everyday to credit consumers who are extremely valuable to them. Also, since the prices will be different in different petrol pumps in the city, the consumer will be thoroughly confused.
Moreover, petrol pumps will have to increase staff to reconcile their accounts everyday due to the change in prices. The unanimous consensus among petrol pump owners in the city appears to be that they will gladly welcome the changes provided there is end-to-end automation or the oil companies compensate their stock losses.