Curb graft instead of hiking gas prices | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 02, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 02, 2019

Curb graft instead of hiking gas prices

Court's statement reflects people's concerns

The High Court has expressed the sentiments of the common citizens in declaring that even if half the corruption in Petrobangla and Titas was stemmed, raising the prices of gas would have been unnecessary. In response to a writ petition, the court has rightly said that gas prices should fluctuate, if it does, because of international prices, asking why we should be buying gas for USD 10 when our neighbour India does so for USD 4. We have raised similar questions multiple times—price hike of gas not driven by international prices cannot be justified. And contrary to claims, it is not system loss which is to blame.

So, the question comes back to—as observed by the court as well—what role has the ACC played in stemming this corruption? And what justification is there for demanding a 208 percent hike for gas consumed by power plants, 211 percent for fertiliser companies, 96 percent for captive power plants, 132 percent for industries, 41 percent for commercial entities, and 50 percent for CNG-run vehicles? Or for the 80 percent in monthly gas bills for both single-burner and double-burner cooking stoves? Citizens and businesses should not have to bear the brunt of added costs. We have written before that we should be looking into alternatives to imported LNG by strengthening local gas reserve exploration programmes. But even without that, the court's observation shows, gas crisis in different parts of the city is not due to inherently supply shortage, but irregularities.

We ask that Petrobangla and Titas heed the call of the people, as articulated by the court. Putting our houses in order should be the first priority. And the role of the ACC in independently pursuing the stemming of corruption is crucial.

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