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Consumers brace for a big hike in gas price

| Updated: February 04, 2022 08:48:06


Consumers brace for a big hike in gas price

As gas pressure drops due to short supply, consumers in many areas in the city are feeling the pinch of the crisis.

Many families just get an hour or so, usually early in the morning, to cook the entire day's meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Many others don't even get a moment to light their gas burners from dawn to dusk, according to UNB.

In such a terrible condition, they said, proposal for raising gas price came to them as an absolute mockery.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, however, said he prefers only a 5.0-10 per cent hike in the prices of gas, particularly for the household consumers.

His comments came in the wake of state-run gas distributors' recent proposal to double the gas price for household customers.

Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited, the largest gas supply entity for Dhaka city and adjoining districts, in a release on January 12, informed the consumers will experience low pressure in gas supply for 10 days during 12-21 January due to technical reasons.

As per Titas website, the largest gas distribution entity's command area includes Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Narshingdi, Tangail, Manikganj, Mymensingh, Kishoreganj, Jamalpur, and Munshiganj where over 2.8 million consumers receive gas from the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company.

The notified 10 days are over, but the crisis still persists. In many areas, it has aggravated.

Tanzila Hossain, a housewife in Tejgaon area in the city, said her family cooks the meals at mid-night as no gas is available during the day.

"This has really been a nightmare situation for us as we have to buy bread for the breakfast," she said adding, the family's expenditure increases when the income decreases due Covid-19 situation. "Normally, we used to do our breakfast with homemade breads," he said.

Ismail Hossain of Khulgaon's story is another painful one. A man from low income group, had to buy a kerosene-oven to find a solution to nagging gas crisis.

"Now I have to spend money in two ways-paying regular bills of Tk 975 per month without consuming gas and spending more than Tk 1,000 for buying kerosene", he said.

A further pathetic experience is of Mahbub Hossain in Jurain in south city. He said he had to purchase 12-kg LP gas cylinder to manage emergency situation as he receives no gas in day time.

My mother suffers from old-age disease and is unable to cook at mid-night, he said adding, so in most of the time, we have to buy readymade meals from restaurants spending Tk 5,000 a month.

"Now, I'm thinking of moving my family to an area where gas is available", he said.

In such a crisis-ridden situation, most of the consumers found the recent move by the distribution entities to raise gas price a big blow to them further compounding their miseries.

"It's really a big mockery with the consumers", said Tofazzal Hossain, a dweller of the city's Modhubag area where most time of the day gas is unavailable.

Residents of the capital's East Rajabazar, Jigatola, Mohammadpur, Adabar, Bhatara, Badda, Banasree, Mirpur, Pallabi, Gendaria, Jurain, Jatrabari, Demra areas are suffering most from a shortage in gas supply.

State-owned gas distribution companies on January submitted their final proposals to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission to push for a 117 per cent hike in gas price at retail level.

Separately, their principal gas supplier Petrobangla also placed its proposal to raise the price of the natural gas at bulk level.

If the BERC accepts the distributors' proposals the monthly gas price for a double burner will increase to Tk 2,100 from existing Tk 975, while price for single burner will rise to Tk 2,000 from current Tk 925.

About the proposals, State Minister Nasrul Hamid said that his ministry had no option but to move proposal to raise gas and electricity price.

"Energy division was allocated a Tk 60 billion subsidy for the current fiscal. But we have to spend Tk 200 billion to buy gas in LNG form from international spot market", he said adding, the finance ministry has already asked the ministry to take care of the extra cost.

Nasrul noted that per unit of gas which was earlier cost $7.0 is now at $47 in the international spot market.

He also said that though the proposals stipulated for big rise in household gas price. "But I believe, gas price will not go up by more than 5.0-10 per cent for household consumers".

Narsul Hamid said he will sit with textile and other industrial sectors to get an estimate on how much the price should be raised for industrial use.

He warned that the international gas market may experience further hike in gas price if Ukraine-Russia gets into war.

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