People protested in front of petrol pumps across the country after the increase in fuel prices, commuters had to suffer a lot on Saturday as the number of public transport in cities and highways was very low. There have been scuffles and chaos among the transport workers and passengers over the increased fare collection. Many long-haul transports have been accused of raising fares arbitrarily.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources informed, in coordination with the increase in the price of fuel oil in the global market, the price has been increased in the country due to the fear of smuggling along with reducing the losses of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC).
Minister of State for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said the government was forced to increase the fuel price to reduce subsidies. We beg to question why this amount has been increased at once. Could it not have been hiked little by little?
The government wants to deal with the situation by increasing the price of energy by nearly 50 per cent and through power cut. But the extent of its negative impact on the country's economy and public life has not been taken into account.
Past experience has shown if the price of fuel increases, it has a direct and significant impact on the cost of living including industrial and agricultural products and public transport fare. Transport fare in particular is increased arbitrarily and the government could never control the situation.
There is no guarantee it will not happen this time as well. When oil prices were low in the international market, the government collected more money from consumers and made profits. Now it is completely unreasonable to increase so much price at once with the excuse of global market.
Although the amount of power generation and capacity increased during the Awami League government, no effective steps were taken to extract gas locally. After the victory in maritime border dispute in 2014, Myanmar started gas extraction in its territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal. We couldn't even conduct exploratory operations. Those whose non-cooperation and negligence are responsible for this must be held accountable. Such a catastrophic situation in the energy sector would not have happened if we tried to explore and extract gas locally.
The minister and adviser indicated that fuel prices will increase slightly to deal with the crisis. How could that be up to 51 per cent? Due to the long impact of Covid pandemic and the increase in commodity prices, the living conditions of not only the low-income and marginalised people but also the lower and middle class have become insufferable. Many people are forced to dip into their savings to run their families. In this context, we demand to keep the fuel price at a reasonable and bearable level.