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Dhaka Saturday,  Mar 23, 2019

Public hearing on gas price hike proposal begins in BERC

Dhaka, Mar 11 (UNB) – Entertaining a statement of the state-owned Petrobangla about its annual loss of Tk 24,540 crore in LNG import, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) on Monday started its four-day public hearing at TCB Auditorium in the city on gas tariff hike proposals.

Participating in the hearing process, Petrobangla Chairman Ruhul Amin said the hydrocarbon agency will have to face this huge deficit in the account once it moves for the import of 1000 mmcfd LNG (liquefied natural gas) from April next to meet the country’s gas shortage.

“So, it’s essential to raise the gas price to offset the loss,” the Petrobangla chairman told the public hearing making his appeal to the energy regulator to raise gas tariff to Tk 9.55 per cubic meter from the existing tariff of Tk 7.17.

Petrobangla in its proposal said the mother body has been purchasing each unit of gas from different upstream gas production companies at an average rate of about Tk 6.50 while each unit of LNG will cost Tk 39.82.

Currently, Petrobangla is importing some 500 mmcfd (million cubic feet per day) against a shortage of about 1000 mmcfd, while the current gas supply is 3100 mmcfd.

the hearing, state-owned Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL) placed its proposal to raise the transmission tariff of gas supply.
Participating in the public hearing, all the consumer right groups and individuals opposed the Petrobangla’s proposal saying that how consumers could pay an extra charge in advance before they receive the imported gas.

Referring to the BERC Act, Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) adviser Prof Shamsul Alam said it is totally unlawful to hold such a public hearing within the same fiscal year of 2018-19 when the commission passed its order on October 16, 2018.

“You cannot hold such a public hearing by entertaining any proposal on gas tariff hike while you’ve already disposed of a similar proposal in just October last,” he told the watchdog body.

BERC Chairman Monwar Islam presided over the public hearing while other members of the watchdog body were present on the occasion.

Eminent energy expert Prof Nurul Islam said the tariff fixation process for both the upstream and downstream companies should be transparent and the tariff should be fixed through public hearing under the BERC.

Prof Badrul Imam of Dhaka University said the government will have to come to the public hearing every year if it continues to raise the import LNG as per the plan which outlined 4000 mmcfd import in the years to come.

He said this is unfortunate that both the neighboring India and Myanmar awarded contracts for offshore gas exploration after the settlement of maritime boundary dispute while Bangladesh miserably failed to do so in the last 5 years.

Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) leader Ruhin Hossain Prince said the leftist parties will build a mass movement against the gas price hike alongside participating in the hearing as the BERC has lost its credibility over the neutral role.

Chief Coordinator of Bangladesh Gano Sanghati Andolon Zonayed Saki also opposed the gas price hike proposal.

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