Thursday, March 21, 2019 | ePaper

Gas price hike would deeply affect the people and the country

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WITHOUT introducing waste-reducing meter, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) has proposed for hiking the tariff of bulk and household gas uses. However, country's business communities along with ordinary people have protested the stride. They termed the gas distributors' proposal for doubling the average gas price -- from Tk 7.35 to Tk 14.91 per cubic feet -- unrealistic, and said, if implemented it would wreak havoc on the country's economy. Amid the global competence for RMG market when Bangladesh is struggling, a price hike of gas would double the production cost as the gas is the raw material of electricity generation. In consumer label, the country is undergoing severe unemployment problem and inflation; the price hike of gas would cut the consumers' pocket heavily.
All six gas distribution companies -- Titas, Bakhrabad, Jalalabad, Pashchimanchal, Karnaphuli, and Sundarban -- are seeking the price hike at the consumer level. According to the proposals, Titas and Sundarban have demanded 208 per cent hike for the gas consumed by power plants, 211 per cent for fertiliser companies, 96 per cent for captive power plants, 132 per cent for industries, 41 per cent for commercial entities, and 50 per cent for CNG-run vehicles. They are seeking 80 per cent rise in the monthly gas bill for both single-burner and double-burner cooking stove, from Tk 750 to Tk 1,350 and from Tk 800 to Tk 1,440 respectively.
Businesspeople urged the BERC to refrain from increasing the price because the price of steel and cement would go up manifold if the proposals were implemented, dealing a blow to the country's ongoing infrastructure development. In October last year, the BERC increased the transmission and distribution charges and the distribution companies had adjusted the price accordingly. So the proposal of hiking gas price is unlawful as transmission, distribution or retail tariffs could not be increased twice in a fiscal year as per the BERC law. There is another one - if the gas companies earn profit regularly, they can't propose to hike price. Presently, except Sundarban all other companies are making hefty profit.
Considering people's interest, the government should reconsider the price hike of gas.

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