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Fuel price hike

‘Decision political, not bureaucratic’

Published : 11 Nov 2021 10:07 PM | Updated : 14 Nov 2021 12:12 PM

The decision to raise fuel prices was political, not bureaucratic. However, it was time to raise the fuel prices as fuel prices globally have also gone up.

Anisur Rahman, Senior Secretary of Energy and Mineral Resources Division said this while addressing at an online seminar titled, 'Rise of Fuel Prices: Future Impact' on Thursday. 

FERB (Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh), an organization of journalists working in the energy sector organized the event.

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Rahman said, “We had no option but to increase the prices of diesel and kerosene. We had tried to take advantage of alternative financing by observing for another six months. If the prices of fuel fall, we would adjust to it. However, we will not be able to take responsibility for transport fare. Of course, there is a macroeconomic impact with the price increase, I do not disagree.”

“However, if the government had not taken the surplus income of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC), it could have waited for another six months. The government has taken away Tk 10,000 crore of surplus income in the last two years,” he added. 

Anisur Rahman said “We have noticed in some media that the process of raising the price of petrol-octane after diesel. There is no truth in such reports. Petrol is a domestic product and a small amount of octane is imported. So, we have no plan to increase its price right now. Besides, we are not considering increasing the price of gas and electricity at this moment.”

BPC Chairman ABM Azad said that the decision to increase fuel prices was taken by the government. BPC has implemented it. BPC has been able to take various energy-saving projects worth Tk 33,000 crore as it has made a profit of thousands of crores of taka in the last few years. Of these, once implemented SPM (Single Point Moring) project, it will save Tk 800 crore per month.

Belayet Hossain, Chairman of the Bangladesh Power Development Board, said “We spent Tk 50,000 crore on power generation last financial year. Of this, the fuel cost was Tk 25,000 crore. A total of Taka 11 thousand crore has to be subsidized. If we get fuel at half the price, we would not have to pay a subsidy. The whole world is going through a catastrophic time. It will be easier to deal with the extra burden if everyone agrees.”

Professor Shamsul Alam, the energy adviser of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said that the process of raising prices was not legal. According to law. BERC (Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission) is the regulator of the sector and only they can increase the price of fuel oil. BERC has to be taken the role of regulator. Apart from this, the activities of BPC should be monitored, there is no transparency of their income and expenditure. 

Energy expert Professor Ijaz Hossain said, "Diesel is used by low-income people. Although there was an increase in the price of octane and petrol, there was always a mentality of subsidizing diesel and kerosene. Are we coming out of that mentality?”

CPD research Director Khandaker Golam Moazzem said, “The government's decision to raise prices was wrong. The maximum loss could have been around Tk 4,680 crore in the entire financial year. At the same time, the government has projected revenue of Tk 7,838 crore from BPC for taxes and duties. Therefore, the price increase could have been avoided reducing by the tariff.”

AKM Hatem, Executive President of BKMEA, an association of textile traders, said that traders have been pushed towards unequal competition in the global market. The decision to increase prices should be reconsidered.

Mohiuddin Rubel, director of BGMEA, an association of garment traders, said production costs had risen by 30 percent in five years. As a result of rising fuel prices, costs will rise by another 1 percent, which will hurt competitiveness.

Mozammel Haque Chowdhury, general secretary of the Passenger Welfare Association, said that passengers would have to pay an additional Tk 200 crore a day for the increase in transport fares. Traders are taking an additional Tk 73,000 crore from the people to avoid a subsidy of Tk 6,000 crore a year.

Shamim Jahangir, Executive Director of FERB conducted the seminar while it was presided over by FERB Chairman Arun Karmakar.

Arun Karmakar said, “Even if prices are reduced in the world, prices are not reduced in the country. Anarchy could have been avoided if prices had not been raised at the moment but at least three months later. The government has wasted opportunities, people have suffered.”

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