The government is going to hike gas prices to adjust to the price of imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) that is expected to arrive in the country next month.
“Gas price will be increased. I said this last year,” Finance Minister AMA Muhith told reporters after a pre-budget discussion with some think tanks at the State Guest House Padma on Thursday night.
“This has to be done. Otherwise, there will be no development,” he said as journalists asked if the government would hike the gas price in the election year.
Energy ministry officials said the government for the first time is going to import LNG, beginning in April, to meet the shortage of gas amid growing a number of industries in the country.
The ministry has formed a committee to re-fix the gas price. Once fixed, the proposal will be sent to Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission for review.
The price of gas may go up from Tk 3.16 per unit (now) to Tk 4.99 in the power sector, from Tk 2.71 per unit to Tk 4.75 in fertiliser sector, and from Tk 9.62 per unit to 14.98 in captive power sector, ministry officials said.
The price is also likely to increase from Tk 7.76 per unit to Tk 14.9 in the industrial sector, from 17.04 per unit to Tk 35 in commercial sector, from Tk 32 per unit to Tk 51.7 in CNG sector, from Tk 9.1 per unit to Tk 11.2 in domestic sector, and from Tk 7.42 per unit to Tk 12.10 in tea garden sector.
In September last year, the government signed an agreement with Qatar to import LNG.
The first shipment of LNG supply is expected to begin in April from a floating LNG terminal being built by US-based Excelerate Energy in Moheshkhali of Cox's Bazar under a Petrobangla-sponsored project.
The terminal will receive imported LNG, then gasify the liquid and pump it into the national gas grid at a rate of 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd).
The second shipment of LNG supply is expected in late 2018 from another LNG terminal being built by the country's biggest power producer Summit, which would supply another 500 mmcfd from Moheshkhali.
The finance minister said most of the LNG importers are private firms, and the government will buy LNG from them. “Therefore, the price will be high.”
The private importers would make decision on the LNG price, Muhith said, adding, “We will buy LNG from the private importers just the way we purchase power from private power companies.”
Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, meanwhile, sent a letter to the energy ministry, proposing price hike of petroleum products.
Energy ministry officials said the government might not opt to increase petroleum price, which has wide implications for the economy.