Saturday, June 22, 2024

LPG dealers fleece people as no regulation exists

Importers and dealers of liquefied petroleum gas in the country are charging the consumers extortionately high prices, cashing in on the absence of any market monitoring and control instituted by the government.
The retail price of LPG has soared up to 25 per cent over the past eight months, although its global price has been on a downturn for the past nine months and the government offering a range of incentives on import of LPG, raw materials and accessories since July.
Sania Akhter, a resident of Shahjadpur in the capital, said the LPG price was too high compared to piped gas price.
She said, ‘Every time I go to refill a cylinder, they charge me more claiming that the LPG price has risen on the international market, the transport cost has increased, etc. And I have nothing to do but to count the extra price and the situation has really been turning into a mess.’
The suffering of LPG consumers has been spreading in the capital from mid-2009 after the government suspended providing new gas connections including that for kitchens and there is no regulation or initiative from the government side to rationalise the LPG price, Sania said.
The government in the current budget has waived 11 per cent duty comprising 5.00 per cent import duty, 5.00 per cent advance income tax, and 1.00 per cent pre-shipment duty imposed on LPG importers. It also reduced the duties on accessories of and raw materials for LPG cylinder manufacturing to a very low level.
After enjoying all these price opportunities and government incentives, the retail price of LPG has been increased by about Tk 100 for every 12-kilogram cylinder in the past three months.
In contrast, importers claim they have increased the price of 12 kg LPG from about Tk 1,100 to around Tk 1,200 now as the global LPG price has been on the rise.
But, the truth is, with an exception in July, the prices of constituents of LPG – propane and butane – on the international market have been declining since this June.
In June to October this year, the price of propane has come down to $735 per tonne from $945 and that of butane to $790 from $995.
The low-cost LPG supplied by the state-run producers has failed to make any role to keep the market under control due market manipulations by the dealers and distributors.
Kudrat-E-Elahi, managing director of the state-run LP Gas Limited, said the price of a 12.5 kg cylinder of LPG should not be more than Tk 700 within a 40 kilometre range of a depot.
However, the distributors in the capital are selling a 12.5 kg government LPG at Tk 1,450, saying the price hike was caused by a scarcity of the fuel.
The price of 12 kg imported LPG in the capital can be as much as Tk 1,350 now.
Our correspondents from Noakhali, Barisal, Khulna, and Rajshahi reported that the price of LPG had been increased by up to 15 per cent in three stages over the past three months. At present, the LPG price in those districts ranges from Tk 1,250 to Tk 1,300.
Bashundhara LP Gas deputy managing director Mujibur Rahman told New Age that the retail price of 12 kg LPG should not be more than Tk 1,300 as the company charges the dealers Tk 1,180 for that amount.
Belayet Hossain, managing director of Jamuna Spacetech Joint Venture Ltd, said they could not control the retail price of LPG as the distributors did not go by the company-set price.
The state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation markets 20,000 tonnes of LPG produced by Eastern Refinery Ltd and the natural gas fractionation plant of Kailashtila gas field in Sylhet against the annual demand for 1,00,000 tonnes. The rest of the demand is met by four importers – Bashundhara, Totalgaz, Kleenheat, and Jamuna.
On setting a benchmark price of LPG, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Syed Yusuf Hossain said, if the authorities concerned or any of the stakeholders in the LPG sector would request the commission to rationalise the LPG price, it might make the necessary regulatory actions.

-With New Age input

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