Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said that the people who were demonstrating against the gas price hike were failing to understand the reality and did not see the development activities carried out by the current government.
Sheikh Hasina, also president of ruling Awami League, in her winding-up speech in the budget session at the house, proposed for bringing amendment of laws related to rape incidents by incorporating tougher punishment.
Leader of the house also urged the media to publish and air the faces of the rapists repeatedly so that they feel ashamed.
The PM said that the import cost of a cubic foot of liquefied natural gas was Tk 61.12, but it was being sold at Tk 9.80 per cf by providing a huge subsidy of tk 51.80.
‘We need to provide total subsidy of Tk 19,310 crore. If we add the taxes and the VAT the figure will be Tk 30,000 crore’, she said.
The Petrobangla and other companies have proposed for a 102 per cent price hike, she said, adding that the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission though felt that the gas price hike should be 75 per cent but they increased the price only 32.80 per cent keeping in mind the burden of the people.
Hasina said that gas was important for industrialisation and development of the country. ‘We are having fast industrialisation. We don’t have enough gas. We are exploring gas,’ she added.
‘The criticism of the gas price hike is unfortunate. Those who are criticising do not see development. They do not understand the reality,’ she said.
‘We do not have sufficient gas. So we need to import LNG at high costs,’ she said.
Refuting the claim by deputy opposition leader Rawshan Ershad that gas prices were lowered in India, Hasina said the prices were still much less in Bangladesh than in India.
‘It is said the gas prices were decreased [in India]. The price of household gas in India is Rs 30 per cubic foot, whereas that is only Tk 12.60 in Bangladesh,’ Hasina said.
The gas price for industrial purpose is only Tk 10.70/cf in Bangladesh against Tk 40-42/cf in India, the CNG price is Tk 43/cf in Bangladesh against Tk 44/cf in India, and the gas price for commercial use is Tk 23/cf against Tk 58-65/cf in India, Hasina said.
She also said that Bangladesh needed to provide subsidy in electricity generation. Hasina urged all to be cautious about using gas and electricity.
Sheikh Hasina has once again argued against raising the age limit for entering government jobs to 35 years from the existing 30.
She said that government is providing enough subsidy for higher education.
‘A Dhaka University student pays Tk 15 for tuition fee and Tk 30 for seat rent and Tk 90 as bus fare per month. If you take a cup of tea, it costs you Tk 20 nowadays,’ Hasina said.
She also pointed out the low tuition fees, seat rents and bus fares of BUET, Rajshahi and Jahangirnagar and other universities.
‘No other country provides such subsidy in higher education,’ she said, adding, ‘We are doing it to improve the quality of education. We want to ensure a proper academic atmosphere at the universities,’ she added.
In response to Rawshan Ershad’s demand for death penalty for rapists and perpetrators of violence against women and children, Hasina said that incidences of some social crimes had increased.
‘We cannot accept these types of unsocial activities. We will take action against them,’ she added.
She also urged men to come forward and protest violence against women and children.
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