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Secretary general of the Bangladesh Jatrikalayan Samity, Mozemmel Haque Chowdhury said the people will have to pay Tk 730 billion (73,000 crore) extra due to the fuel price and bus fare hike.

The government recently increased the price of diesel and kerosene by 23 percent and subsequently bus fare by 26 per cent.

FERB chairman Arun Karmaker, chairman of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) ABM Azad, advisor of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) professor M Shamsul Alam, energy expert Prof Ijaz Hossain, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) director Khondaker Golam Moazzem and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) director Mohiuddin Rubel also addressed the webinar.

ABM Azad said BPC has no authority to take decision on price. “The ultimate decision comes from the government and it has to implement the decision as per law”, he added.

Mozammel Haque said the mass people have been pushed to a deep crisis through raising the fuel price. Passengers have to pay Tk 2 billion (200 crore) daily and Tk 730 billion (73,000 crore) annually for increased bus fares.

The government can easily adjust the BPC’s loss of Tk 60 billion (6000 crore) from the national budget of Tk 6 trillion (600,000 crore), he added.

Golam Moazzem said the government had many options other than raising the fuel price to cover its loss. If the taxes are waived on the fuel import, it would not have to raise the price or the government can compensate BPC loss with stimulus package, he added.

Mohiuddin Rubel said the garment sector will have direct impact of Tk 30 billion (3,000 crore) loss. It would have been better if the government waited for some more times. “We have just started recovering from the Covid-19 effect. At this stage, such a decision was taken to raise the fuel price”.

Mohammad Hatem, president of BKMEA, said this was not right time to increase the fuel price when economy has just started recovering from shock of the Covid-19.

CAB advisor professor Shamsul Alam said it’s a bureaucratic decision to raise the fuel price, not a political one.

He alleged that the government is now acting as player instead of a regulator while owners of transport sector have been acting as regulator.

He alleged the BPC violated the law in raising the fuel price and In future, the officials will face the trial for violation of law.

BUET’s former professor Ijaz Hossain said all previous governments tried keep the diesel price lower. But current decision seems it is trying to change the policy.

BPDB chairman Belayet Hossain said BPDB is a consumer of energy sector. He also agreed with the apprehension as the economy will suffer from fuel price hike.

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