Fuel price hike piles pressure on citizens

The rate at which fuel prices are increased will immediately affect all sectors, including the manufacturing and transport sectors, and increase inflation, experts say

The recent hike in fuel prices will have a severe impact on citizens, affecting their purchasing power, transport freedom, business, and overall standard of living, experts have said.

The rate at which fuel prices are increased will immediately affect all sectors, including the manufacturing and transport sectors, and increase inflation, they added. 

The government could have increased the prices in phases, the experts suggested.

The government on Friday announced that it had raised all fuel oil prices, a decision that came into effect yesterday.

Now the price of diesel and kerosene per litre at the consumer level is Tk114, octane Tk135, and petrol Tk130. The price of diesel has been increased by Tk 34 per litre, octane price by Tk 46 per litre and petrol price by Tk 44 per litre.

SM Nazer Hossain, Vice-President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said that due to the increase in the price of kerosene and diesel, there will be a seriously adverse situation at the consumer level. 

“All products related to kerosene and diesel will catch fire in the market. Cost of transportation of goods and public transport will increase. Food prices will increase. Traders will raise the price of each of their products once again on the pretext of rising fuel prices,” he added. 

Citizens hurting

Following the announcement of the increase in prices, there was an immediate outcry among the general people.

They fear bus fares, prices of vegetables and fruits, transportation costs, house rent, and even rickshaw fares will increase as a result of the fuel price hike. 

“Due to the increase in prices in the  energy sector, the cost for people in the transport sector may increase a lot. A fare of Tk5 may rise to Tk10, or close to it. The majority of the country's factories or mills consume fuel. Cost of production will increase due to the rise in fuel prices. After that, the price of everything will ultimately increase,” said Prof Muhammad Ruhul Amin, chairman of the department of international relations at Dhaka University.

“This price increase means that people's income decreases because the possibility of increasing the salary of the worker is lower. In this case, there will be a difference between income and expenditure And people's purchasing power will decrease. Overall, there will be sufferings in public life,” he added.

Ishtiaq Ahmed, who lives in Dhaka, said: “I work a private job. I usually don't have any money after the 20th of the month and on the remaining 10 days I am borrowing. Now I may have to borrow for 20 days and cut costs significantly.” 

Ishtiaq added that earlier he could travel to his office for two days on one litre of octane. Now he can buy fuel for only one day at about the same cost. 

Prof Elias Hossain of the department of economics at Rajshahi University said: “The fuel price hike will create pressure in all sectors, including the transport, manufacturing, and clothing industries. But the government had no choice. Due to the amount of subsidy the government has to pay on import of energy, reserves might be strained, and the government wants to adjust it. However, the measures taken can have a major impact on people, buyers, consumers and producers.”

Less public transports on road 

Many petrol pumps in Dhaka have remained closed since yesterday morning following the announcement of the price hike. Due to the lack of fuel, about 70% less of public transports hit the city roads, according to passengers and drivers.

Mohammad Nazmul Haque, convenor of the Petrol Pump and Tank Lorry Owners-Workers Unity Council and president of Bangladesh Petrol Pump Owners Association, said time was being taken to set the new prices on the fuel oil dispenser machines at the pumps.

He said some pumps were opened in the afternoon after the new prices had been added.

Commuters said they were not getting buses even after waiting for long periods. CNG-powered auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, and rickshaws were asking for double the usual fares.

People were seen waiting for buses in the Banasree, Rampura, Badda and Moghbazar areas of the capital since the morning.

Transport owners have stopped most long-distance bus services from Satkhira due to the sudden increase in fuel prices without a corresponding increase in bus fares. Although some buses left for Dhaka in the morning yesterday, most of the passengers did not get buses even after waiting at the counter for hours.

Diesel-powered buses did not operate from yesterday morning in Chittagong, but gas-powered buses were seen plying the roads.

Joint Secretary of Chittagong Road Transport Owners Group Shajahan said: “Transport owners and workers are angry at the sudden increase in the price of fuel oil. Those who think that they cannot buy oil at this price, they are not driving, but there is no official announcement of a transport ban in Chittagong.”

Buses were not available at Magura District Central Bus Terminal since yesterday morning. Even if some buses arrived, passengers complained that they charged extra fares.

CAB demanded that the government withdraw the fuel price hike immediately. They said that over the past several days, the price of fuel oil had decreased in the international market, but the decline had not been reflected in the local market. 

In this situation, the announcement of an increase in fuel oil prices by the government's executive order without public hearing by the Energy Regulatory Commission was disappointing, CAB added. 

Bus owner and BRTA meeting

Transport owners held a meeting with the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) yesterday afternoon to adjust bus fares after the increase in fuel prices.

Secretary General of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association Khandkar Enayet Ullah said: "Earlier we had submitted a letter calling for fare adjustment. The coordination committee will decide on the rent.”

Transport owner Sohrab Hossain said: "[Yesterday] our vehicles ran on the road at a loss. Many called for a closure. If everything is imposed on us, we will not be able to do business. Profit is a far-fetched idea, we won’t even recoup costs.”

Launch owners will hold a meeting with the government as soon as possible in light of the increase in prices of all types of fuel oil in the country. Leaders of the Launch Owners Association said that the owners had also held a meeting among themselves on the question of an adjustment of fares.

Siddiqur Rahman Patwari, general secretary Bangladesh Inland Waterways Passenger Carrier Association (BIWPCA), said there were no passengers at the ghat. 

“Even if fares are reduced, we are not getting passengers. We will soon have a meeting on the fare issue”, he added.