Checking corruption at BPC could have prevented fuel price hike, CPD says

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

The government could have avoided the unprecedented hike in the fuel price by checking corruption, theft and mismanagement of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation and by improving the state-run agency’s efficiency, according to the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). 

The think tank made the observations at a press briefing at its Dhanmondi office in the city on Wednesday, reports UNB. 

According to the CPD, the price of octane per litre in Bangladesh is Tk10 higher compared with price in neighbouring India while the price of diesel is higher by Tk 2. 

The price of octane is higher by Tk 29 and diesel by Tk 16 compared to Vietnam which is Bangladesh’s biggest competitor in the global RMG market. 

It also urged the government to revert the decision on the fuel price hike saying, the impact of the hike will have a multiplier effect on the economy.

 “The fuel price hike will push up the current 7.5 per cent inflation to a further higher level”, said Dr Fahmida Khairun, executive director of the CPD. 

She made a presentation titled: “Could Unprecedented Fuel Price Hike be Avoided Now?”. 

Former agriculture secretary Anwar Faruque, who was speaking at the event as a specialist, said the cost of rice production will go up by Tk 1000 per bigha due to the latest fuel price hike. Finally, the price of coarse rice will go up to Tk 60 per kg in the coming season, he said. 

Considering this, the cost of rice production per hectare (1 hectare equals 3.95 bigha) will go up by Tk 4000, he warned. 

Faruque urged the government to immediately announce the price for the procurement of paddy in the next boro season. 

“Otherwise, the farmer will not be encouraged to produce rice fearing the loss which will jeopardise the food security”, he told the event. 

Energy expert Dr Ijaz Hossain said that it will be wise to introduce formula and adjust the fuel price through the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC). 

The energy regulator is entrusted with the responsibility and the consumers remain prepared to pay a higher price when the price goes up globally. They will get the benefit of a lower price when it comes down, he said. 

“If India can adjust fuel price tagging with the global market, why can’t Bangladesh do it?" he asked. 

CPD research director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem said that there is no transparency and accountability of the BPC which has a deposit of over Tk 250 billion with different banks. 

Despite such huge deposits, why do they need to go to increase the fuel price when everybody is under economic pressure due to high inflation? he asked. 

BKMEA Vice President Fazle Shamim Ehsan said that fuel price will have an enormous impact on the industries as it will directly hit the workers’ cost of living. 

If they leave their jobs due to the increased cost and go to village, the industries will suffer the most, he said. 

Bangladesh Jatri Kalayan Samity’s Secretary General Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said a passenger’s monthly expense in transport will go up by Tk 2100-6000 causing a huge social impact at this moment of high inflation.