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POST TIME: 15 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 March, 2019 10:48:17 PM
Proposed gas price hike not justifiable

Proposed gas price hike not justifiable

The Titas Gas Company's proposal of a 103 per cent rise in the gas price faced stiff opposition from different consumer groups at a public hearing of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) on Wednesday. In a whopping 102.85 per cent average hike, the largest gas distribution company proposed to raise the price of household gas for a single-burner oven from Tk. 750 to Tk. 1,350 and a double-burner oven from Tk. 800 to Tk. 1,440 a month.

For production of electricity and fertiliser, it proposed a gas price hike by 208 per cent for power generation, 211 per cent for fertiliser production and 132 per cent for industries. The consumer groups said that if the gas price were raised, it would have a negative impact on public life, as it would lead to a rise in the transport cost, electricity tariff and the price of other consumer goods.

Meanwhile, gas supply for household consumption is far from satisfactory. In Bangladesh, businessmen wait always for a chance for increasing prices of their products, and no doubt the gas price hike would once again offer them an opportunity to fleece the general consumers. It is not known why the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (BAPEX) is not exploring new gas fields despite availability of funds.  Instead of passing on the extra cost of an imported fuel to consumers, measures should be taken to find new gas reserves. Import of LNG is an expensive distant solution to our energy crisis. Solution lies in onshore and offshore exploration for new gas. How long can we depend on such an expensive imported fuel to complement our depleting gas reserves?  

Gas comes from our own natural resources, and people of our country have a right over it. If we need to make a balance in the prices of supply line gas and cylinder gas, this balance can be achieved by lowering the price of a gas cylinder. The relevant authorities should take into account the grievances of the consumers and take a pragmatic measure in this regard. It would not be prudent to hastily increase prices of gas defying public interest. There is no alternative to measures for exploration to discover gas reserve for a long-term solution.