Despite this, the BERC is raising gas prices twice this year, once in March and then in June.
The BERC has no explanation for this move, which has already been termed an irrational hike and stirred public discontent, as it is bound to affect households and transportation.
On February 23, the commission in an announcement raised the gas price by a weighted average of 22.7%. For households, this hike is 55-60% and for transportation it is 33%.
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.
The Consumer Association of Bangladesh (Cab) is going to file a writ petition with the High Court against the hike. It says the hike is unnecessary as gas distribution companies are still in profit.
When asked, BERC Chairman Monowar Islam said: “The price of gas has been raised by the commission in two phases for the benefit of the consumers.”
He did not wish to clarify further.
Five years ago the commission similarly raised the price of electricity in phases.
After that the commission raised the prices of electricity and gas but only once a year.
Cab Energy Adviser Prof Shamsul Alam said: “Raising the price of gas is completely unnecessary.
It will create a social tension and conflict between house owners and tenants. The Cab will move the High Court against this.
“According to the law, the commission can never raise the price twice in a year, so this price hike is completely inappropriate.”