Sunday, March 24, 2019 | ePaper

Gas price hike to hit industrial sector hard

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Kazi Zahidul Hasan  :
Business leaders have expressed concern over the government's planned gas tariff hike saying that such upward readjustment of the utility price would hit the country's industrial sector hard.
They think that a fresh gas tariff hike will lead to further rise the cost of doing business and weaken the country's competitive edge in foreign trade.
"The proposal to raise gas tariff by over 100 per cent is 'irrational' if we consider the present situation of the manufacturing industries.
The rise will emerge as a new challenge for the export-oriented manufacturing units as they have already faced stiff competition in global market,' FBCCI President M Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said," FBCCI President M Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin) told The New Nation on Friday.
He said, the manufacturing costs of apparels have increased by 30 per cent in the last 10 years due to rise in workers' wages and utility bills. "A fresh increase in gas tariff will largely affect the apparel industry as it is now unable to take the load of further rise in cost of production."
"Besides, it will also hurt the export competitiveness, increase transportation cost and overall cost of doing business and fuel inflation," added Mohiuddin.
He also called upon the government to reconsider the decision of raising gas price in view of the current situation in the industries and greater interest of the mass.
"The government focus on preventing gas pilferage and exploring new gas fields as a way out from the option for importing costly LNG and fuel price raise in regular interval," suggested Mohiuddin.  
Recently, seven state-owned gas distribution, transmission and marketing companies have submitted proposals to Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) seeking for an average 100 per cent hike in natural gas tariff for all types of consumers.
BERC on Thursday completed a four-day public hearing on gas tariff hike from 11 March.
"The hike in the gas tariff will increase the cost of production, which will make local exportable uncompetitive in world market," President of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) Abdus Salam Murshedy told The New Nation.
He said the move would not only raise the cost of production of local industries, gas-based captive power generation and fertiliser production will also be costlier due to this move.
"The export-oriented industries are not ready for any kinds of hike in utility bills as they are running with diminishing competitiveness. In this situation, another hike in gas tariff will leave a big impact on the country's export trade," said Murshedy.
The ruling party lawmaker urged the government to review the decision considering the interest of the country's export sector as well as the consumers.
Expressing worry over the gas tariff hike move, BGMEA President M Siddiqur Rahman said that it is not a wise decision if we consider the capacity of the manufacturing sector.
"It will have a serious adverse impact on manufacturing units, particularly the apparel factories when they are burdened by high cost of production," he added.

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