Saturday, June 22, 2024

Govt’s LP gas for cheats

Racketeers eat up Tk 50cr subsidy, pocket up to Tk 160cr a year by spiking prices
At a time when consumers are grappling with soaring prices of liquefied petroleum gas, unscrupulous traders with the help of some government officials are making crores of taka by selling subsidised LP gas at more than twice the government-fixed rate.
The racketeers not only eat up nearly Tk 50 crore in subsidies intended for consumers, but also pocket another Tk 128-160 crore every year by overcharging consumers.
State-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) produces 20,000 tonnes of LP gas a year, enough to fill 16 lakh cylinders with 12.5 kilograms of LP gas each. The gas is produced as a by-product at the Eastern Refinery in Chittagong and the Kailashtila gas field in Sylhet. The BPC has a one-fourth share in the country’s LP gas market, according to industry players.
A cylinder of BPC-produced LP gas is priced at Tk 700 at the end-consumer level. But this subsidised gas is traded for Tk 1,500-1,700, almost the same prices charged by private companies.
“It is an open secret that no consumer gets the BPC-produced gas at the government-fixed price. In Chittagong, it is sold for a minimum of Tk 1,500 a cylinder,” said Fazlur Rahman, deputy general manager of LP Gas Ltd, a state-run organisation that packages LP gas before it is marketed by four other government companies.
“A ring of dealers and traders is depriving consumers,” said Rahman.
State-run Padma, Meghna, Jamuna and the SAOCL market LP gas for the government. LP Gas Ltd sells a 12.5-kg cylinder for Tk 631.5 to the marketing companies that sell it to dealers for Tk 679.5. The dealers can charge consumers a maximum of Tk 700 a cylinder, said Rahman.
The scam came to the fore recently following an unabated price spiral in LP gas — by nearly Tk 500 per 12-kg cylinder — in the last three months. The price has gone up to Tk 1,700 a cylinder. Private operators have attributed the price hike to rising LP gas prices on the global market.
Dealers and traders make a profit of Tk 100 from each LP gas cylinder of private companies. But they charge more than double the government-set price for BPC-produced LP gas. Allegations are rife that a section of dishonest BPC officials help them run the business.
“A section of unscrupulous dealers and traders eats up subsidy of over Tk 300 on each LP gas cylinder. Some BPC officials get a percentage from those dealers,” said a senior BPC official requesting anonymity.
According to the BPC, the caretaker government in 2008 decided to increase LP gas price to Tk 1,000 from Tk 600 a cylinder to cut subsidies. But dealers refused to buy LP gas at an increased price.
Soon after the Awami League government came to power, the price was re-fixed at Tk 850 a cylinder. But dealers rejected it. Later, the price was set at Tk 700 when private players were selling each LP gas cylinder for Tk 1,200-1,300.
BPC Chairman Abubakar Siddique said private operators were partially responsible for the price manipulation.
“They (private companies) have a role…they make a pact between themselves and hike the price.”
Dealers of both private and public companies take advantage of the big gap between LP gas prices charged by the BPC and private players, he said.
“Dealers rub BPC’s name off a cylinder and sell it as a private company’s product. We wrote to marketing companies last week asking them to warn their dealers. Otherwise, their licences will be cancelled,” said the BPC chairman.
Private players said the price of per tonne LP gas rose to $1,195 this month from $1,031 in February on the international market for the Iran crisis and soaring demand for LP gas in petrochemical industries.
Khizir Ahmed, general manager of Bashundhara LP Gas, said, “Buyers do not know that the BPC sells LP gas at a subsidised rate of Tk 700 a cylinder. Middlemen eat up the subsidy under the nose of the authority.”
BPC officials said some Chittagong-based dealers control the supply of BPC-produced LP gas cylinders and sell it to retailers at a much higher price.
Wahidul Alam Patwary, a Chittagong-based dealer, claimed that the supply of BPC-produced cylinders is inadequate, and it accounts for only two to three percent of the total supply in the market.
However, BPC now takes up 25-percent share of the LP gas market.
“Consumers see products of private companies all around,” said Rahman.
Syed Yusuf Hossain, chairman of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission, said there should not be such a big gap between the LP gas prices charged by public and private companies.
“If the affected party does not inform us, we are unable to do anything.”
On the big price gap between LP and natural gas, he said everybody knows that LP gas is marketed because of a severe shortage of natural gas.
Habib Hasan, an LP gas user at Kathalbagan in the capital, said, “I do not know that the BPC produces LP gas, and its price is less than half that of private companies.”
Hasan has to spend around Tk 2,500 a month for LP gas for his three-member family, while his neighbour pays only Tk 450 for natural gas.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

Related News

Over 1.04 crore animals sacrificed on Eid-ul-Adha this year

News Desk : A total of 1,04,08,918 animals were sacrificed across the country on the occasion of the holy Eid-ul-Azha this year. As many as 3, 67, 106 more animals were slaughtered this year compared to previous year, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock said in a press release on Tuesday. This year the ... Read more

9am-5pm office time to resume from Wednesday

News Desk : The public offices across Bangladesh are set to go back to old office timing from 9:00am to 5:00pm with Fridays and Saturdays being the weekly holidays as usual from Wednesday. The cabinet in its weekly meeting on June 3 decided restoring the old office timing between 9:00am and 5:00pm on weekdays ... Read more

5 magnitude earthquake jolts parts of Bangladesh

News Desk : A magnitude 5 earthquake jolted a large part of the country on Sunday (2 June) afternoon., including Dhaka. The quake struck at 2:44pm from a depth of about 110km, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, and was centred in the Mawlaik area of Myanmar, 441 km southeast of Dhaka. The quake ... Read more

Over 2cr to be fed as daylong Vitamin ‘A’ plus campaign begins

News Desk : The National Vitamin A-plus campaign is being conducted with a target to feed the capsules to over 2.22 crore children, aged between six months and 59 months. The campaign started at 8am on Saturday (June 1) and will continue till 4pm. Feeding Vitamin A capsules prevents blindness in children, ensures normal ... Read more

Postponed notice fake, HSC exams on June 30 as per schedule

News Desk : The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent exams will be held on time as per previous announcement, beginning on 30 June. The routine deferring the exams for a month that is making rounds in social media, is fake, the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Dhaka said on Saturday. A circular ... Read more

3 month-long ban on fishing, tourism in Sundarbans begins

News Desk : The forest department has imposed this three-month ban on fishing and tourism in the Sundarbans. Local communities, including fishermen, wood and honey collectors, who depend on the Sundarbans for their livelihoods, are concerned about a three-month ban on all activities in the forest starting Saturday. The restriction applies to visitors, including ... Read more

Appellate Division upholds HC verdict on DU teacher Samia’s demotion

News Desk : The Appellate Division today (26 May) upheld the judgement of the High Court which declared illegal the demotion order of Dhaka University faculty Samia Rahman on charges of plagiarism. A four-member appellate bench headed by senior judge M Enayetur Rahim of the Appellate Division rejected the appeal of DU as invalid. ... Read more

3.2 million children at risk as Cyclone Remal hits Bangladesh coasts: UNICEF

News Desk : As Cyclone Remal hit the coastal areas of Bangladesh, over 8.4 million people, including 3.2 million children, are at high health, nutrition, sanitation, and safety risks, according to UNICEF. ‘Our thoughts go out to the children and their families at this critical moment as they endure the storm’s impact,’ said UNICEF ... Read more

Classes suspended at coastal area schools due to cyclone

News Desk : No classes will be held at schools in the coastal areas due to Cyclone Remal, said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Mohibur Rahman. He said this after a meeting of the inter-ministerial disaster management coordination committee at the Secretariat on Sunday. According to a bulletin of the Met Office, ... Read more

Cyclone Remal forms over Bay, signal 7 at Payra and Mongla

News Desk : The deep depression over the east and west central Bay of Bengal intensified into a cyclonic storm “Remal” at around 9:00 pm today and is expected to hit the country’s coasts between 6pm and 11:59pm tomorrow, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD). The Met Office asked the Payra and Mongla ... Read more

Admissions for Class XI start tomorrow

News Desk : The first phase of applications for Class XI admission for the 2024–2025 academic year will begin tomorrow, May 26, and run through June 11th. According to the XI class admission circular 2024-25, the online application system is divided into three phases with designated application windows, result announcements, and confirmation periods. Students ... Read more

Exam will not be postponed for Cyclone Remal: NU

News Desk : The National University has decided not to postpone the Introduction to Government Policy exam for 4th-year Political Science honours students for the academic year 2022, despite the warning for the approaching Cyclone Remal. The exam is scheduled to be held on Sunday (26 May) at 1:00pm, the same day that the ... Read more

Gold price cut by Tk 1,084 per bhori

News Desk : The prices of gold in the country’s local market witnessed a fall on Thursday as the Bangladesh Jewellers’ Association (Bajus) slashed the price of 22-carat gold by Tk 1,084 per bhori (11.664 grammes). The new rate for the precious metal will come into effect on Friday, BAJUS said in a press ... Read more

Don’t pay anyone for visas, or work permits: Italian envoy

News Desk : Italian Ambassador to Bangladesh, Antonio Alessandro, advised visa-seekers not to pay anyone for visas, emphasising that the embassy only charges small taxes and processing fees. “Our services are free except for these official fees,” he said today (21 May) following a meeting with Shofiqur Rahman Choudhury, the State Minister for Expatriates’ ... Read more

Bangladeshi mountaineer Babar Ali conquers Everest

News Desk : Babar Ali from Chattogram has summited Mount Everest and raised the red and green flag on the world’s highest peak. He reached the summit at 8:30am local time (8:45am Bangladesh time) on Sunday, proudly raising the red and green flag of Bangladesh. He began his journey on 1 April, after necessary ... Read more

Price of gold increases by Tk1,178 per bhori

The new rate will be effective from Sunday (19 May) News Desk : The Bangladesh Jewellers Association (Bajus) today (18 May) increased the price of gold by Tk1,178 per bhori, followed by a price hike in the local bullion market. According to a Bajus statement, 22-carat gold will now cost Tk1,18,460 per bhori (11.664 ... Read more

9 Bangladeshis named in Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list

News Desk : Nine Bangladeshis have been named in Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list for their contributions across various industries. Forbes announced its prestigious “30 Under 30 Asia” list for the ninth consecutive year yesterday (15 May), showcasing 300 exceptional young individuals under the age of 30 who are making significant strides across ... Read more

SC Stays HC Verdict On Condemn Cell

News Desk : The Appellate Division on Wednesday stayed a High Court verdict that asked the jail authorities not to put death sentence inmates in the solidarity confinement before the end of all legal processes. The Appellate Division judge in chamber, Justice M Enayetur Rahim, granted the stay after hearing an appeal filed by ... Read more

BRTA to take ‘no helmet, no fuel’ policy for bikers

News Desk : Besides, no battery-run auto-rickshaws will be allowed to operate in Dhaka The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has decided to take a “no helmet, no fuel” approach for motorcycle riders across the country. Besides, no battery-run auto-rickshaws will be allowed to operate in Dhaka, according to decisions taken at a meeting ... Read more

MV Abdullah finally arrives at Ctg port

News Desk : The 23 crew members of Bangladeshi flag carrier MV Abdullah, which was recently freed from the captivity of Somali pirates, has reached the Chittagong Port today (14 May). The Chittagong Port Authority has a reception at the New Mooring Container Terminal (NCT) to welcome back the sailors. Their family members are ... Read more