Consumer rights activists renewed their call to the government to regulate the liquefied natural gas price after it was increased by the sellers for the second time in less than two months.
They described the latest arbitrary increase by Tk 150 to Tk 200 per bottle from Saturday as totally unreasonable.
In November, the price of a bottle of LPG was increased by Tk 120 saying the petroleum prices had increased in the international market by $ 10 per tonne.
‘We have nothing to do with the price hike. This is the fallout of the international situation,’ said Jamuna LPG managing director Belayet Hossain.
Bangladesh annually consumes about 10 lakh tonnes of LPG and about 98 per cent of it sold in bottles by two dozen private companies and only two per cent is sold by the government.
Imported LPG is mixture of 30 per cent propane and 70 per cent Butane and bottled in Bangladesh in different sizes of cylinders.
One tonne of LPG is bottled in 83.3 cylinders each filled with 12 kg of LPG, the popular weight with the consumers.
After the latest price hike a consumer has to pay Tk 1,100 for 12-kg of LPG, up from Tk 900 to Tk 950 until Friday.
The government sells 12.5-kg of LPG in cylinder at Tk 700.
Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation officials told New Age that that a private company spends about TK 800 to supply 12 kg of LPG in cylinder to the customer including the import and the transportation cost as well as the value added tax.
Before January, private companies spent about Tk 700 to reach 12 kg of LPG in cylinder to the consumer, they said.
BPC officials said that LPG price increased by $129 per tonne in the international market in January creating a fresh opportunity for the private companies to increase the profits.
BPC chairman Shamsur Rahman said that their market share in LPG business being insignificant BPC cannot make any impact on the market price.
‘As we get nominal subsidy from the government for selling LPG our price reflects the actual LPG price,’ said BPC chairman Shamsur Rahman.
The government gets LPG from the domestic sources, he said.
The latest price hike without any warning shocked the consumers.
‘Life has become very difficult for me,’ said Shagufta Mahjabin, a government employee, who bought 22-KG of LPG for Tk 2,100 on Friday one day before the price was increased by the private companies.
In December, she said 22 kkg of LPG cost her Tk 1,900.
‘My monthly expenditure on cooking gas rose to Tk 3,500 from Tk 3,000,’ said Mahjabin.
Mushfiqur Rahman, an LPG dealer in Khulna, said that now he sells 12 kg of LPG for Tk 1,100 up from Tk 950 until two days back.
Piped gas consumers pay Tk 950 for using double burners.
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission fixes natural gas price and the law made it obligatory for it to set the price after holding public hearing.
But BERC never fixed LPG price despite repeated demands from the consumers and consumer rights activists.
‘Total anarchy prevails in the LPG market,’ said Consumers Association of Bangladesh 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.
‘The government is allowing private LPG companies to sell LPG at cut throat prices,’ said Shamsul Alam.
‘There is no one to listen to the consumers,’ said Shamsul Alam.
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