Leaders of Nagorik Samaj, a civil society platform, at a news conference on Saturday said that the government’s move to raise the price of natural gas was unjustified.
They demanded stopping any fresh round of gas price hike within a year after the last hike by 26.29 per cent had taken effect on September 1, 2015.
M Shamsul Alam, energy adviser to the Consumer Association of Bangladesh, said the government took the move to raise gas prices to increase its revenue and give more profits to the traders of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Although Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission is designated to review and make price adjustments for liquefied natural gas (LPG), traders are controlling the prices, he said.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud said a fresh round of gas price hike would eventually lead to increased transport fares, as well as hike in the cost of living, across the country.
He said the recent announcement of the government to cut the fuel oil prices is a ‘trickery’ to create a pre-text for hiking gas price.
The news conference was held at the Sagar-Runi auditorium of Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital.
Nagarik Samaj organised the press conference amid speculation that the energy commission would soon announce the price hike of natural gas on the backdrop of its public hearing held in August.
The speakers said since the arguments in favour of increasing gas prices could not be established in the BERC public hearing, the government should maintain the current prices.
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon vice-president Moazzem Hossain, energy expert BD Rahmatullah and Bangladesh CNG Filling Station and Conversion Workshop Owners Association general secretary Farhan Noor were present at the conference, among others.
During the public hearing, the gas transmission and distribution utilities demanded a 90-per cent hike in the gas prices, on an average.
Later they revised their proposal and demanded a 65-per cent rise.