The recent fuel price hikes by the Energy and Mineral Resource Division is a direct violation of the existing law, said Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB).
As per the article 34(4) of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Act 2003, the regulatory commission reserves the authority to fix all types of energy prices including petroleum products through public hearing, said CAB's Energy Advisor Professor Dr Shamsul Alam at a virtual press conference on Monday.
"But, instead of BERC, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) placed the diesel and kerosene price hike proposal to the Energy and Mineral Resource Division which increased the diesel and kerosene price on 3 November, directly violating the BERC Act 2003," he added.
Urging the BERC to take necessary action against the BPC and Energy Division officials for increasing the diesel and kerosene price violating the existing law, Shamsul Alam said, "Article 42 of the BERC Act 2003 says that violation of BERC Act is a punishable offence and the penalty is either capital or imprisonment or both."
CAB President Ghulam Rahman said, "To stabilise the fuel price market, the government can form an energy stability fund with Tk43,734 crore that BPC earned in the last seven years."
Jatri Kalyan Samity rejects hiked transport fare
Besides the CAB, Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (Passengers' Welfare Association) also demanded cancelation of the latest fuel price hike and urged the government to set reasonable and acceptable transport fares.
Rejecting the current fares, Jatri Kalyan Samity (JKS) denounced the decision to increase public transport fare at a press conference at Bangladesh Shishu Kalyan parishad Auditorium in Dhaka on Monday.
"The government has increased bus and launch fares to exclusively serve the interest of transport owners," said Mohammad Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of the JKS.
Regarding long-haul buses, the JKS said that the maximum fare for new buses could be Tk1.60/km and for old buses Tk1.10 if the cost analysis was done properly. But the fare has been unfairly increased from Tk1.42 to Tk1.80 for all buses.
As per the revised fares, the minimum fares of buses and minibuses in metropolitan cities have been set at Tk10 and Tk8 respectively, which used to be Tk7 and Tk5.
The new fares, which are not applicable for CNG-run buses, are effective from Monday morning.
Meanwhile, the JKS demanded Tk1.80/km for large launches (with a capacity of 1500 to 2000 passengers) and Tk1.20/km for small boats, dinghy boats, launches and trawlers (with a capacity of 150 to 500 passengers).
"Although the number of large launches is not more than 20-30, the cost of these launches has been taken into account in the cost analysis. As a result, the rent of millions of small boats, launches and trawlers has also increased," said Mozammel Hoque.
Both the bus and launch owners called off the strike on Sunday evening after the government agreed to increase the transport fares.