Bnp terms gas, power tariff hike illogical, demands withdrawal

Bnp terms gas, power tariff hike illogical, demands withdrawal

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Terming illogical and unacceptable the government’s decision to raise the prices of gas and power, BNP on Saturday demanded its immediate annulment.
The party also urged the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to revise the power tariff in accordance with falling oil prices on the international market after conducting a fresh mass hearing on it.
BNP spokesman Asaduzzaman Ripon came up with the demands at a press briefing at the party’s of Nayapaltan central office. The press meet was arranged to give the party’s formal reaction to the fresh hike in power and gas tariffs.“We know the BERC, a government puppet, had held a mass hearing to decide the increase in the prices of the major utility services early this year during a volatile political situation of the country. The verdict of the hearing was not to increase the tariffs. Holding hearing mere eyewash as they’ve now increased the tariffs of gas and power as per their wish. Our party demands immediate cancellation of the decision,” Ripon told reporters.
He further said, “The cost of power generation should have gone down following the fall of oil prices on the international market, but the government has increased the power price instead. On the other hand, gas tariff has also been hiked though the gas sector is a profitable one. It’s a very illogical and unacceptable decision.”
Earlier on Thursday, the government raised the gas and powers tariff by 2.93 percent and 26.29 percent respectively on average at the consumer level with effect from September 1 next.
The BERC announced the increased prices at an emergency press conference at its office.
Announcing the gas price and power tariff rise, BERC chairman AR Khan said a hike in the gas price was inevitable as gas is depleting fast and they were looking for alternative energy for making Bangladesh a middle-income country. “That’s why we have to raise the gas price.”
After a series of hearings on petitions submitted by different gas and power distribution companies to raise their respective prices in January and February this year, the regulator came up with its decision after about eight months although the relevant law suggests the petition should be resolved within 90 days from their submission.
“We call upon the government to arrange a fresh and transparent hearing on the issue with all the stakeholders. We hope the government considering public sufferings will move away from its anti-people decision of raising the power and gas prices.” Ripon said.
Asked whether they will announce any action programme in protest against the power and gas tariff hike, he said their party policymakers will decide it after a discussion.
Referring to senior Awami League leader Suranjit Sengupta’s remark against the power and gas price hike, the BNP leader said, “A ruling party leader’s call for reconsidering the government’s decision has proved BNP is not protesting the hike in power and gas tariffs only for the opposition’s sake.”
He said their party also trashes the logics the state minister for power and BERC chairman and its members showed for hiking the tariffs as those are unjustified. “We think people would not have borne the brunt of burden of price hike of power and gas had the government been able to check corruption and minimise the system loss in the sector.”
Justifying his party’s demand for revoking the power and gas tariff hike decision, the BNP spokesman said it will inflict sufferings on the common people, and cast a serious negative impact on agriculture, business, export, and industrial production.
He feared that the gas price hike may hit the already struggling tea export hard.
The BNP leader said their party thinks the lower prices of utility services will help boost up investment in private sector and generate employment opportunities.
He also came down hard on the government for the Tk 2,000-crore subsidy every year on quick rental power plant.
Questioning the reason behind the increase in gas tariff, Ripon said, “The government needs not to give subsidy on gas sector and there’s no loss in it either. Instead, Petrobangla has made a profit of around Tk 20,080 crore in the last five years. Under the circumstances, “We think the decision to raise to Tk 600 from Tk 400 the monthly price of household single burner gas oven in one stroke is a serious injustice to the lower and middle-class people.”
The BNP leader observed that the upper class consumers will be less affected by the fresh hike in power and gas tariffs than the poor section.  “We’ve found each unit price of power has been increased by 27 paisa at the lowest level of users while 5 paisa at the highest level of users, mainly the upper class.”- UNB

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