The High Court will deliver its order on March 31 on a petition that challenged the legality of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission’s ongoing public hearing for further increasing gas price.
The HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader today fixed the date for passing the order after concluding hearing on the petition.
Convener of Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Architect Mubassher Hossain submitted the petition to the HC on March 12 seeking stay on the process for increasing the gas price.
During the hearing today, petitioners’ counsel Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua told the HC that the BERC has organised the public hearing for increasing the gas price in violation of the relevant procedures.
As per the BERC laws, the price of gas cannot be increased twice in a fiscal year, he argued, saying that the commission raised the bulk, distribution and transmission rates of LNG-blended gas on October 16 last year.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam appeared for Petrobangla, the licensing authority of the gas distribution companies, and Advocate AFM Mesbahuddin argued for BERC.
They said that the writ petition is premature as no decision has been taken yet for increasing the gas price further.
BERC started the public hearing on March 11 on the proposals placed by six gas distribution companies -- Titas, Bakhrabad, Jalalabad, Pashchimanchal, Karnaphuli, and Sundarban -- for the gas price hike at consumer level.
Titas and Sundarban have demanded 208 per cent hike for the gas consumed by power plants, 211 per cent for fertiliser companies, 96 per cent for captive power plants, 132 per cent for industries, 41 per cent for commercial entities, and 50 per cent for CNG-run vehicles.
They are also seeking 80 per cent rise in monthly gas bill for both single-burner and double-burner cooking stoves, from Tk 750 to Tk 1,350 and from Tk 800 to Tk 1,440 respectively.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), a number of other trade bodies, groups and people are reportedly demanding scrapping of the government’s plan to increase gas price further.
They said that the gas distributors’ proposal for doubling the average gas price -- from Tk 7.35 to Tk 14.91 per cubic feet – is unrealistic, adding that if the price hike is implemented, it would wreak havoc on the country’s economy.