Three lawmakers yesterday came down heavily on the government for increasing the price of gas and said the move would affect the people.
Speaking in parliament, they said the price was increased without any discussion in parliament when it was in session and that was tantamount to disrespecting the House.
They asked if it was legal to increase the price without the House’s approval.
Workers Party lawmaker Rashed Khan Menon said Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission hiked the price within four hours of the passage of the national budget in which the finance minister had said that price of “no item would be increased in the budget”.
“It is very humiliating for parliament. The House has been bypassed in making such a decision [price hike of gas],” he said.
“People are reacting against the decision and they are also angry and disappointment ... as it will adversely impact their lives, industries, and the economy.
“Why was the price of gas hiked? Is it to correct the market of LPG [Liquefied petroleum gas]?” he said.
He said he submitted a notice in parliament for holding discussion on the price. Menon urged Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah, who was presiding over the sitting at that time, to accept his notice.
Menon also said Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal lawmaker Hasanul Haq Inu, AL lawmaker Moyeen Uddin Khan Badal, Workers Party lawmakers Fazle Hossain Badsha, Mustafa Lutfullah, and Lutfun Nesa Khan also support his notice.
JSD lawmaker Shirin Akhter while raising a supplementary question criticised the government for increasing the price.
Opposition Jatiya Party MP Fakhrul Imam questioned whether it was legal to hike the price without parliament’s approval.
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque defended the government move.
He said people would be affected by the price hike of gas in the short term but everyone would benefit in the long run as it would have positive impact on the economy.
The minister made the statement while responding to Shirin’s question. He was responding instead of State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid, who was absent yesterday.
“The price of gas has been increased several times. There were reactions against these moves. I am admitting that the common people will be affected slightly due to the price hike of gas,” he said.
Razzaque said gas, coal or diesel is needed for producing power and the government has to subsidise this sector.
He said for ensuring the uninterrupted power and gas supply, the prices might have to be increased but its positive effects, like setting up of more industries, factories, and mills, have to be taken into account.
The minister said if the government always subsidised the sector, then development in other sectors might be affected.
“The government hiked the gas price considering all the aspects. By this some people will be affected directly, but indirectly everyone will be benefited. The positive effect will be on the economy,” he said.
He mentioned that the government was importing LNG and that 500 million cubic feet of LNG had already been imported. Private organisation Summit Power was importing another 500 million cubic feet, he said.
Responding to JP MP Fakhrul’s question on whether it was legal to increase the price without parliament’s approval, the minister said he did not know anything about the matter.
“The MP will get his answer if he notified parliament,” he added.
The gas price for consumers was raised by an average 32.8 percent with effect from July 1.
As per the new prices, households with a single burner stove would have to pay Tk 925 a month instead of Tk 750 while the double-burner users would have to pay Tk 975 instead of Tk 800.