3.9m users angered for paying extra money
Authorities in dark about the ‘autocratic acts’
Md Joynal Abedin Khan: The operators, including importers and distributors have tactfully hiked the prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by issuing letters to all dealers across the country to dodge the authorities concerned about the added values.
They sent the written messages to the dealers to increase maximum price by Tk 50 of each 12-kg LPG cylinder.
The vested traders also opted the secret policy as High Court (HC) issued rule earlier not to raise the price of the LPG till submission of the final report of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), is a regulatory agency that monitor the gas, electricity and petroleum products in the country.
The hiding hiked price in dealer-level has come to the light following repeated demonstrations by the consumers in city and some districts, including Rangpur, Nilphamari recently.
The consumers have become angered with the LPG gas price hike while the prices of essential commodities have mounted in the countrywide markets amid the covid-19 pandemic.
In the meantime, the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), a non-political, non-profit and voluntary consumer organisation to protect consumers from commodity adulteration and artificial price-hike, has sent a letter to the BERC to cancel the trade approval order and license of the trading institutes for hiking the prices of LPG without any declaration and maintaining of formalities amid the ongoing HC instructions.
Earlier, the High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman issued a rule on January 21 this year asking the authorities why it should not order them to take immediate action to form a committee for setting the maximum retail price of the LPG for displaying it on cylinders.
Backdrop, the number of LPG users in the country is around 3.9 million, according to estimates by the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources and traders.
Besides the capital, LPG is also used at district, Upazila and village levels. LPG is also used in many cars. The country needs over 1.5 million tonnes of LPG annually. However, imports and sales stand about 1 million tonnes. The government supplies 20,000 tonnes, (2 percent of the total sale), while the rest is imported privately. Imported LPG is mixture of 30 per cent propane and 70 per cent Butane and bottled in different sizes of cylinders.
Khaleda Rumi, a house wife from Baraipara under Nilphamari district town, told the Daily Industry over mobile phone on Sunday, “The price of a Basundhara company’s cylinder filled with 12.5 kg LPG, recently has increased from Tk 830 to Tk 770.”
“LPG buyers in Rangpur are angry over the hike in the price per cylinder of the fuel. The price of LPG gas per cylinder has suddenly increased in the city to Tk 800 from the earlier price of Tk 760,” said Rokey Begum, a consumer of Kacharibazar in the town.
Expressing anger at the increase, she said, “The hike in LPG cylinder price will throw low and middle-income people into further misery”.
“We keep only Tk 50-60 per 12 kg cylinder in profit and Tk 80 for others,” said Rafiqul Islam, a retailer at Kacharibazar in Rangpur city.
The price hike will make middle-class people and people having no gas connection at their home the sufferer, said Golam Rahman, President of CAB.
He said that the traders increased the prices as per their wishes taking advantages of any situation or loopholes.
‘Total anarchy prevails in the LPG market,’ said CAB energy adviser professor Shamsul Alam.
He said that the government recently amended the law that empowered it to increase the prices of gas and electricity whenever it wishes.
‘There is no one to listen to the consumers,’ said Shamsul Alam.
A senior official of energy and mineral resources division said, actual demand for LPG would be around 2.0 million tonnes. The import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) began since April 2018 at a price of Tk 30 per cft, which is fourfold than the local gas. Currently, so far 18 out of 58 approved companies, including BPC, are manufacturing LPG across the country.
Mobul-e-Elahi Choudhury, member of the BERC, said, “We are working for fixation of price of LPG after formulating rules and regulations.”