Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Public hearing on proposed CNG price hike ends in chaos

The public hearing held on Tuesday by Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission on Petrobangla’s proposal for increasing the price of compressed natural gas for end users ended in chaos after lengthy altercations.
Throughout the hearing, the main topic of debates between the BERC, Petrobangla, consumers, and experts was whether the government had any authority to set the price of feed gas for CNG-filling stations.
Petrobangla on October 14, 2010 submitted a proposal to the commission for increasing the CNG price from Tk 16.75 to Tk 24.90 a cubic metre for consumers.
In the proposal, Petrobangla advocated raising the CNG price for end users as the government had increased the CNG feed gas price for the filling stations to Tk 18 a cubic metre from Tk 9.97.
At the public hearing in the commission’s meeting room, Petrobangla director Ataul Hoque Mollah answered the questions of consumers’ representatives and experts on the Petrobangla proposal.
Petrobangla chairman Hossain Monsur was also present at the hearing.
BERC chairman Yusuf Hossain said the commission would give decision on Petrobangla’s proposal for CNG price hike by March 14, after considering the opinions that would be submitted to the commission by all concerned.
Shamsul Alam, a representative of the Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh, while cross-examining the Petrobangla director on the price-hike proposal, termed the government’s decision to increase the price of feed gas for the CNG-filling stations unlawful.
Energy expert Nurul Islam, also a professor of appropriate technology at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said, according to the BERC Act 2003, the commission was responsible for setting the prices of all forms of gas at the consumer level.
Association of Bus Companies president Khandakar Rafiqul Islam requested the commission to cancel the proposal for increasing the feed gas price and to ask Petrobangla to come up with a fresh proposal.
Falgun Aat Transport Company also filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging the Petrobangla proposal.
Hossain Monsur tried to justify a price hike of both CNG feed gas and CNG for end users, saying that the benefits of natural resources like gas went to a very small cluster of
people of the country, which he termed unacceptable.
He said, if the CNG prices are raised, the government would earn more revenue that could be used for the country’s development.
The commission in an open meeting on February 17 took into cognisance Petrobangla’s proposal for raising the CNG price to Tk 24.90 a cubic metre from Tk 16.75 as the government had increased the feed gas price to Tk 18 from Tk 9.97 a cubic metre.
The CAB, experts, and the commission, however, agreed to increase the CNG prices both at feed and end-user levels.
Yusuf Hossain said CNG prices should be rationalised in accordance with the prices of petroleum products like diesel or octane.
The CNG-filling stations and bus owners, however, protested the stance as a price hike of CNG would force consumers to switch to using diesel and octane, which would result in increased environment pollution.
Yusuf Hossain chaired the public hearing, with BERC members Emdadul Haq and Salim Mahmud also present.

 

Courtesy of New Age

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