The Left Democratic Alliance has called a half-day hartal across the country on July 7 to protest the gas tariff hike.
Following an emergency meeting at the capital’s Mukti Bhaban yesterday, left-leaning political parties made the announcement.
Left Democratic Alliance (LDA), a coalition of eight left-leaning political parties, comprises Communist Party of Bangladesh, Socialist Party of Bangladesh, Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh, Ganasamhati Andolan and Ganatantrik Biplobi Party.
The decision to increase the price of gas was also criticised by other political parties including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Workers Party of Bangladesh (WPB) and Gonoforum.
Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader also said the government was uneasy about the hike but it was done only for “adjustment”.
Quader said the government was currently incurring a loss of about Tk 1,860 crore monthly.
“And even after this adjustment, the government has to give subsidies (in this sector),” the minister told reporters at his office in the secretariat.
Asked about illegal gas connections and corruption in the sector, he said the government was able to reduce these through different initiatives.
According to the new tariff, households using a single burner will pay Tk 925 instead of Tk 750 a month. Those using a double burner will pay Tk 975 instead of Tk 800.
The energy regulator yesterday raised tariff for all users, saying the move would help the government bear the expenses of importing liquefied natural gas.
With this, gas tariff for households has more than doubled in the last decade.
Gas price was last hiked in June 2017.
BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Rizvi Ahmed said the government increased gas price “to allow relatives of the ruling party members to continue looting”.
In a press conference at the BNP’s Nayapaltan office, Rizvi said the AL had increased gas prices six times in the last 10 years.
“All kinds of industries will incur losses and investment will be hampered,” he said, adding that the hike would increase inflation as it would impact transport fares and price of daily commodities.
“The decision is completely anti-people,” he added.
Terming the gas price increase illegal, WPB yesterday held a protest rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club.
The increase of gas price would not only impact households, but also the transport, industry and power sectors, reads a press release.
“It will create extreme pressure on poor and middle income people,” it added.
In a statement, Gonoforum termed the price hike illogical and demanded its withdrawal.
“The government has failed to run the country. By increasing the gas price, a new burden is imposed upon people,” it said.
Noted economist Prof Anu Muhammad said the government’s decision to hike gas price was “illogical, unjust and unsystematic”.
“The government has illogically imposed its arbitrary decision on people,” he said at a protest rally by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Port in front of the Jatiya Press Club.
If gas price goes up, price of industrial products and their production cost will also go up. As a result, locally-produced goods cannot compete against imports and this would lead many industries to face shut downs, he added.