LPG cylinder prices burdening people
We are concerned with the way importers, distributors, and retailers are indiscriminately increasing the prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders, despite the fact that the prices are being fixed by the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) regularly. According to a report in this daily, the BERC fixed the retail price of a 12-kg LPG cylinder at Tk 1,140 in early August. However, consumers in different parts of Dhaka had to buy the refilled cylinders for around Tk 1,400. Our reporters recently visited some areas of the city, including Kachukhet, Shewrapara, Tejturi Bazar, and Karwan Bazar, and found that a 12-kg LPG cylinder was even sold at Tk 1,500 in some places. At a time when the country's people are already overburdened by increasing costs of living, such illegal practices by traders have added to their sufferings.
The LPG market in Bangladesh has always been chaotic due to price manipulation by traders at different levels. Although the BERC fixes the price of LPG every month, the importers, distributors, and retailers reportedly do not abide by this. When asked about the reasons behind the inflated LPG prices at the consumers' end, retailers blame the distributors and the distributors point fingers at the importers. We often hear from importers that there is a shortage of imports and that they have to face many challenges in opening letters of credit, and that the volatile foreign exchange rate also contributes to increased prices. But these excuses do not fly with the public because the BERC is supposed to fix the prices of LPG cylinders in the country while considering all factors. Moreover, such prices have to be adhered to by the concerned distributors.
The BERC, therefore, cannot shrug off its responsibility. It seems that the regulatory body has confined its work to fixing the prices only, even though monitoring the market should also be one of its top priorities. It also has the power to take action against non-compliant companies, which it should exercise regularly. We therefore urge the BERC to take every step that is necessary to keep the LPG cylinder prices within the reach of ordinary people.