Consumers and businessmen on Tuesday warned Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission against raising gas price as proposed by the public utility provider.
They said electricity prices and transport costs were directly related to the increase in gas prices, and costs of many items would go up immediately after the price of gas was increased, raising the overall cost of living.
Businessmen fear that the proposal to increase gas price came just a year after its last hike in June 2017.
Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited proposed 115 per cent increase in its distribution tariff to stay profitable.
‘This is unacceptable,’ said Bangladesh Textile Mills Association director Shahid Alam as he participated in the discussion on the proposal of gas price hike at a public hearing organised by BERC at its office in the morning.
He said that their expenditure on gas purchase rose by 300 per cent since 2015.
‘Let alone flourishing, businessmen are now struggling to survive,’ said Shahid.
The public hearing began with a presentation from Titas director (finance) Shariful Islam justifying their proposal to increase distribution tariff.
He said Titas hit a liquidity crisis bearing its tax liability and giving loans to public utilities like Gas Transmission Company Limited.
Sharif said that they also promised Petrobangla and its sister concerns loans amount to Tk 2,344 crore for building gas transmission lines and liquefied natural gas terminals.
‘The situation is like that we may not be able to pay dividend to our shareholders,’ said Sharif.
The government holds 75 per cent share in Titas gas.
Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh energy adviser Shamsul Alam likened Titas to Nayebs, Zaminder’s representatives in middle age.
‘It seems Titas needs money anyway,’ said Shamsul Alam expressing surprise with the logic behind Titas’s price hike proposal.
‘Whatever may be the situation of the people, Titas won’t spare anyone to keep it profitable,’ said Shamsul Alam.
Energy expert Badrul Imam said he simply failed to understand the logic behind importing LNG with a plan to increase the import over time.
LNG import would increase the gas price,’ observed Badrul Imam.
Accusing Titas of cheating consumers, former president of Institute of Architects Bangladesh Mobassher Hossain said that the BERC should remain vigilant against the gas distribution company.
Ganasanghati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki told the hearing that the decision to raise gas price would only erode people’s trust on BERC.
‘There is a conspiracy to increase fuel price to benefit a vested quarter of people having business interests in energy, transport and other related sectors,’ said Saki.
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