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No bar to second phase gas price hike

  • Published at 04:49 pm May 30th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:01 am May 31st, 2017
No bar to second phase gas price hike
The government can increase gas prices for all sectors in the second phase from June 1 as the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a previous High Court ruling that had halted the hike. Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order following a petition of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) that challenged the High Court order, seeking a stay on it. The apex court also sent the petition to the regular bench of Appellate Division for hearing on June 5. On February 28, the High Court froze BERC’s decision to raise gas prices after a writ petition filed by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB). The first phase hike in household and industrial gas prices came into effect from March 1. CAB’s Advocate Subrata Chowdhury said: “I think it should not be fair to hike the prices before June 5 and the government should wait for an order of full bench of the Appellate Division.” On February 23, the BERC had increased the gas prices by a weighted average of 22.7%.  The regulator then had announced it would hike gas prices twice this year – in March and again in June – ignoring the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act that prohibits it from doing so. According to the sub-section 5 of section 34 of the BERC Act 2003: “Tariff determined by the commission shall not be revised more than once in a fiscal year, unless there is change in the prices of energy including any other changes.” As no such change has taken place in recent times, the commission should not have any reason to raise the price of gas twice in a year. Meanwhile, the High Court on February 28, put a six-month embargo on the second phase hike. Prior to that, the gas price was raised in September 2015. From March, the monthly gas bill for single burner stove became Tk750, which would be Tk900 in the second phase. The double burner users will have to pay Tk950 monthly, while the bill is now Tk800.