Market players hope the prices will remain at the permissible level for some time, to the convenience of household consumers
In line with global trends, the prices of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) have dropped by up to Tk 250 in Bangladesh, LPG sector insiders have said.
LPG in refilled 12-kg cylinders of the state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) is now selling at Tk600 each, down from Tk700 a month ago. Private companies are charging up to Tk250 less for the same weight of LPG, which was priced at Tk750 in late June and July.
Market players hope the prices will remain at the permissible level for some time, to the convenience of household consumers.
However, many consumers voiced their resentment over the difference in price between the government and private companies and demanded a uniform LPG pricing policy.
Mahbubur Rahman, an LPG seller at the capital’s Moghbazar area, said he sold LPG of Bashundhara and G-Gas at Tk1050-Tk1,000 last month.
“But now we are charging Tk950 for the same amount of gas in refilled cylinders. Sena Kalyan Trust’s LPG gas is now selling for Tk850,” he said.
A Kathalbagan-based LPG trader said they were selling Meghna Group’s LPG at Tk850, down from Tk950 last month.
LPG prices outside Dhaka have also fallen.
Mirpur resident Chameli Dutta appreciated the reduced prices, but voiced her concern over the difference in LPG prices between companies.
“Life could be much easier if there was a uniform LPG pricing policy, to get the fuel item at a fixed rate across the country,” she suggested.
Nurun Nabi, a shopkeeper in Chittagong, echoed the same sentiment.
“We used to pay around Tk900 for each 12-kg gas cylinder of the Omera brand. Now we are getting the same gas at Tk750,” he said.
What do the market leaders say?
BPC says it is selling LPG in line with the global market, which means customers are being charged significantly less than before.
Regarding higher prices charged by private companies, BPC sources said those companies had set their prices “whimsically.”
The lack of a pricing policy and strict monitoring is to blame for the price discrepancies, they added.
Private LPG manufacturing companies said uniform prices will soon be set for all companies—both government and private.
LPG Operators’ Association of Bangladesh (LOAB) President Azam J Chowdhury said they had cut prices as the necessary raw materials had become cheaper in the international market.
“International prices are on an upward trend again, but we have no plans to hike the prices anytime soon,” he added.
Regarding the price difference issue, he said: “We will sit with the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to set uniform prices. A policy is already being worked on. Once ready and made effective, all companies will have to mention the maximum retail price in accordance with the policy, ending the consumers’ inconvenience.”
However, some high-ups in the government seem to have little interest in resolving the price differences.
Previously, Prime minister’s energy adviser Taufiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury had repeatedly told reporters that they want the LPG market to be open to help keep prices affordable.
On December 14, 2018, Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, former energy secretary, told the media that they had no intention of fixing the prices of bottled LPG as it is BERC’s responsibility to take care of the matter.
Meanwhile, the High Court on June 18 last year ordered the energy regulator to submit a report within one month about the measures it has taken to fix the prices of bottled LPG.
According to the Energy Division, the country has a demand for nearly 713,000 tons of LPG this year.
BPC can only supply 20,000 tons, so the lion’s share of the LPG market would be controlled by private companies.
M Shamsul Alam, energy adviser to the Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh, claimed the government was deliberately keeping the gas crisis alive in the country to help LPG companies cash in on the woes of the consumers.
Currently, only 18 out of 58 approved companies, including BPC, are manufacturing LPG across the country.
LPG consumption in the country has witnessed a whopping four-fold growth over the past three years, with households, commercial entities and vehicles increasingly relying on the fuel.