The recent fuel price hike was a decision from the political end, rather than a move carried out by the bureaucrats on their own, said Anisur Rahman, senior secretary of the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources.
"We [bureaucrats] did not do it. The government has observed the overall situation for six months and it had to hike the prices having no other options," he said as the chief guest at a seminar titled "Energy Prices hike: Upcoming Impact" organised by Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh on Thursday.
He did not make any comment about whether the fuel prices were raised following a hike in the international market. He, however, said if the prices go down in the international market, it will be reduced in the domestic market too.
"But we will not take the responsibility of whether or not transportation and other costs will be readjusted accordingly," said Anisur Rahman.
He commented that he agrees price hikes impact the macro-economy.
He further said that the government has been observing the market since the fuel price reached $71 in May. It decided to hike the price in October after the price went up to $93. The energy ministry took Tk10,000 back from the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) introducing a law in 2018. If the money had not been taken back, the government could have waited longer.
"People are criticising the decision but everything will be okay after some time," the senior secretary said.
BPC Chairman ABM Azad said BPC alone cannot hike fuel price. It only imports and sells fuel. It is the government who takes this decision. BPC has just implemented the decision.
Engineer Belayet Hossain, chairman of Bangladesh Power Development Board, said, "We are also a consumer of fuel oil. Oil has risen, gas prices have risen four to five times, coal prices have risen five times. Everything has fallen on the shoulders of the nation.
The cost of power generation from July 2020 to June 2021 was Tk50,000 crore. Tk11,000 crore had to be subsidised. At this time the production cost per unit of electricity has been. The subsidy was Tk1.49 per unit. The whole world is going through a catastrophic time. It will be easier to deal with the extra burden if everyone accepts it together, he added.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh Professor Shamsul Alam said the owners and regulators have replaced each other, which has created anarchy. The price hike is not legal as the law allows only the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (Berc) to hike fuel prices.
The order to increase the price of oil should be immediately withdrawn and sent to Berc which should check and see if there is any need to increase the price of oil at all, he added.
Among others BKMEA Executive President AKM Hatem, CPD Director (Research) Khandaker Golam Moazzem, BGMEA Director Mohiuddin Rubel and General Secretary of Passenger Welfare Association Mozammel Haque Chowdhury spoke on the occasion.