Disagreeing with the nearly doubled (95 percent) on average gas price proposal by Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company, a technical evaluation committee (TEC) of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) has failed to find grounds for raising the price at all – as the company is on course for surplus revenue to the tune of Tk 359.63 crore at the currently prevailing price.The TEC placed its findings today on the second day of a public hearing arranged by the BERC at the TCB Auditorium in the city.Taking part in the public hearing, different consumer groups including Consumers Association of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), and the Bangladesh CNG Association opposed Titas’s price proposal, contending it would be totally illegal and unfair to raise the gas price at this point, when the company is making huge profits.
Titas officials argued the price hike was needed to meet future expenses.They said it was also needed to pay advance income tax (AIT) to National Board of Revenue. Without the price hike, it would not be possible to pay this tax, according to Titas officials.Their statement caused a heated debate over the proposed gas price hike.As per the BERC law, the three-member commission headed by its chairman will make its own evaluation and announce the final decision after completion of the hearing.The Titas gas officials said they placed the proposal to the BERC as per the instruction of the government.Opposing this statement, CAB Advisor Prof Shamsul Alam said that according to the existing law, Titas Gas is a service providing company which belongs to the citizens of the country.”Titas Gas cannot propose hiking prices unless it incurs losses in its business,” he said. “But the company is making huge profit of over Tk 359 crore. In such a situation, the BERC should not allow Titas Gas to raise the price.”BTMA president Tapan Chowdhury said that if the gas price is raised it will be detrimental to the export-oriented industries as they will face tough global competition.As per the proposal, household gas price will be hiked by the highest 140 percent, where gas price will be raised to Tk 16.80 per unit from Tk 7.The cost of single burner oven will to go up to Tk 1100 from the existing Tk 600 while the double burner will be Tk 1200 from the existing Tk 650 per month. The proposed hikes are 83 and 85 percent respectively for single and double burner ovens.The compressed natural gas (CNG) gas price has been proposed to be raised by 83 percent to Tk 49.50 pere unit from the exiting Tk 27. In this case, the consumer will have to pay Tk 57.50 for per unit CNG in place of the current price of Tk 35 per unit.The power plants’ gas price has been proposed at Tk 4.60 per unit (per cubic metre), up from Tk 2.82 with a 63 percent hike.The gas price for industries was proposed to be Tk 10.95 per unit instead of Tk 6.78 with 62 percent hike in price.Commercial establishments’ gas price was sought to be raised by 72 percent to Tk 19.50 percent from the existing Tk 11.36 per unit.For captive power plants, the gas price was proposed to be raised by 130 percent to Tk 19.26 from the current rate of Tk 8.36 per unit.The price for fertilizer factories was proposed to be set at Tk 4.41 per unit from Tk 2.82, a 71 percent hike.