Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission has hiked average gas price by 32.8% for retail consumers with effect from Monday
The Left Democratic Alliance (LDA) has called a half-day strike across the country on July 7, protesting new hike in gas prices.
The strike will be observed from 6am to 2pm, according to the decision the alliance took on Monday during a meeting held at its Mukti Bhaban office in Dhaka, read a press release.
In a rally in the afternoon, Ganasamhati Andolan Chief Coordinator Zonayed Saki also said that the government failed to rationalize the gas tariff hike and the decision was taken to ensure the interest of LNG business.
The government on Sunday raised the prices of gas again, despite repeated protests from consumer rights groups.
The prices were increased in eight categories, including that of household users, which became effective from Monday.
According to the latest decision, the new weighted average prices of gas at the consumer level is Tk9.8 a cubic foot, 32% increase from Tk7.38.
Under the new decision, the monthly gas bills for both single burner and double burner cooking stoves will stand at Tk925 and Tk975, respectively — which is a 23.33% and 21.87% increase, respectively.
The existing bills for household single and double burners are Tk750 and Tk800 per month, respectively.
The fertilizer sector saw the maximum hike, with the prices of each cubic foot gas set to Tk4.45 — a 64.2% rise from Tk2.71.
Tea industry saw the second highest price hike to Tk10.7; followed by captive power — Tk13.85.
The power sector saw the fourth highest rise — Tk4.45; while gas prices for household users jumped to Tk12.6.
The price for the industry sector went up to Tk10.70. Around 35% hike has been imposed on the commercial category (eateries), while gas price in the CNG sector shot up to Tk43.
The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) has increased the gas prices eight times in the past 10 years.
At separate protest programs on Monday, Ganasamhati Andolon, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Workers Party of Bangladesh and National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports (NCPOGMRPP) also protested the latest gas price hike.
All the platforms claimed that the government increased the prices so that LNG and LPG companies can make profits.
Islami Andolan Bangladesh also announced to hold a protest rally on July 5, saying the hike was irrational and against public interest and it will help raise commodity prices.
About 84% of the people earn below Tk20,000 and they will suffer most by the tariff hike, said IAB's Dhaka metropolitan unit President Sheikh Fazle Bari Masud.
He also threatened that people will take to streets if the government does not withdraw the decision.
Addressing a human chain in front of the National Press Club, NCPOGMRPP Member Secretary Prof Anu Muhammad said the government has created an environment for LNG by making Bapex inactive in the last decade.
“The government has increased gas prices so that profit is made by the cylinder businesses and corruption runs rampant in Titas,” he said.
He also said that NCPOGMRPP was supporting the LDA called half-day strike.
Addressing another human chain at the same place, CPB’s central leader Ruhin Hossain Prince said price of essential commodities would also increase due to the gas tariff hike.
He said they organize protests till July 6. “We will observe a countrywide strike on July 7, if the government does not backtrack from its decision.”
On Monday, Samajtantrik Mazdur Party, Bangladesh Communist party (Marxist ), Jatiyo Biploby Party along with several other likeminded platforms also protested the price hike at a human chain in front of BERC office in Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar.