Fuel price hike
Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, is contemplating buying Russian oil to ease the burden of rising energy prices. In an interview with the Financial Times, Widodo said, “We always monitor all of the options. If there is the country (and) they give a better price, of course,” Widodo raised the price of subsidised fuel by 30% earlier this month, citing financial concerns as the reason for the price increase. Read: Indonesia hikes fuel prices by 30%, cuts energy subsidies Thousands of protestors gathered last week in Jakarta and other major cities to condemn the government’s decision to reduce fuel subsidies. The 270 million-strong nation was rocked by demonstrations after the decision. However, any decision to buy Russian crude oil at a price higher than the G7-agreed price cap could result in US penalties against Indonesia. Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia’s minister of tourism, claimed in August that Indonesia had received a 30% discount on Russian petroleum. The nation’s state-owned oil corporation, Pertamina, then declared that it was examining the risks of acquiring Russian oil. Read: Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Kerry to visit Greece, Indonesia, Vietnam Due to rising food costs, Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, reported annual inflation of 4.7% in August.
Be it government employees or those working in the private sector, the recent bus fare hike is hurting commuters already burdened by inflation. Jannatul Ferdous, a government officer, for instance, is now forced to shell out Tk 100 for a 'Green Dhaka' air-conditioned bus ride to Paltan from the Bashundhara Residential Area, instead of the earlier Tk 60. The fare hike seems to be whimsical on Green Dhaka's part, given the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) on August 6 allowing bus operators in the capital to increase the same by 35 paisa to Tk 2.50 per kilometre from the earlier Tk 2.15. From the main gate of the Bashundhara Residential Area to Paltan, the distance is roughly 10 kilometres. Also read: Fuel price hike: Govt raises bus fares Had Green Dhaka followed the BRTA’s direction, Jannatul’s daily bus fare would have risen only by Tk 3.50 and not by Tk 40 -- which is almost tenfold more. On August 5, the government hiked the prices of fuel in Bangladesh. Diesel prices were increased by Tk 34 to Tk 114 per litre, octane by Tk 46 to Tk 135 per litre and petrol by Tk 44 to Tk 130 per litre.
Already hit hard by a drought-like situation in the district and rising fertiliser rates, farmers of Jhenaidah have been dealt another severe blow -- this time, by the recent fuel price hike and power crisis in the country. Farmers say their agricultural fields have dried up due to inadequate rainfall and their inability to continuously irrigate the same using diesel-powered pumps that entails a huge operational cost given the recent fuel price hike in Bangladesh. Besides, the prices of fertilisers have also increased over the past year, multiplying the losses of the farmers. Majnur Rahman of Rangiyarpota village in Sadar upazila, cultivated Ropa Aman on just five-and-a-half bighas of his eight-bigha land this year. "Rising fuel and fertiliser prices forced me to take such a decision." Another farmer, Jamal Uddin Biswas, expresses frustration over the recent fuel price hike. "If the fuel prices are not reduced, we will have to bear huge losses as the cultivation target will not be met this year," he says. Farmer Somir Uddin says the Aman paddy needs plenty of rainfall. "Due to scanty rains this year, farmers need to spend an extra Tk 1,200 per bigha for irrigation." Read:Why fuel price hike through gazette notification should not be declared illegal: HC Many farmers have demanded the provision of low-cost diesel through agricultural cards if the government cannot reduce fuel prices. "If the prices of fertilisers, fuel and electricity are increased in this agriculture-dependent country in this way, farmers will be forced to give up farming at some point,” Somir Uddin adds. Azgar Ali, deputy director of Jhenaidah Agricultural Extension Department, says a target has been set for the cultivation of Ropa Aman on 1,04,750 hectares of land in the district this year. "By mid-August, 53,262 hectares have been cultivated only. Besides, various types of vegetables are being cultivated on 2,554 hectares of land," he says. According to Azgar, there are two lakh farmer families in the district. "The target has not been met yet as the farmers could not irrigate their fields due to lack of water amid this fuel price hike and power crisis.We are advising the farmers to try their best to meet the target of Aman cultivation.” The government hiked the prices of fuel by a big margin on August 5. Diesel prices were increased by Tk 34 to Tk 114 per litre, octane by Tk 46 to Tk 135 per litre and petrol by Tk 44 to Tk 130 a litre. The government also recently embarked on rationing of power to tackle the ongoing energy crisis in the country.
The High Court on Tuesday issued a rule asking the government to explain as to why raising fuel price through a gazette notification instead of holding a public hearing should not be declared illegal. The HC bench of Justice Md Mojibur Rahman Mia and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo issued the rule after hearing a writ petition challenging the legality of the latest hike in fuel prices in the country. The Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources and the other authorities concerned have been made respondents to the rule. Supreme Court Advocate Md Eunus Ali Akond and Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua stood for the petitioner while deputy attorney general Arbinda Kumar Roy represented the state. Read: Fuel price hike hinders transportation at Benapole Port On august 8, a writ petition was filed with the High Court challenging the legality of the latest hike in fuel prices in the country. The writ petition sought the HC’s directive to stay the gazette issued by the Ministry of Energy, Power and Mineral Resources raising fuel prices. Lawyer Eunus Ali said Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) has the authority to raise the fuel price according to the law. But the fuel prices were increased through issuing a gazette by the ministry. Read: Not worried over allies’ protesting fuel price hike: Obaidul Quader According to that gazette, this decision was taken as per the order of the President. But the constitution does not give the President the authority to raise the fuel prices and for this reason the writ petition was filed, he added. The government hiked the price of fuel by a big margin on August 5. Diesel prices were increased by Tk 34 to Tk 114 per litre while octane price hiked by Tk 46 to Tk 135 and petrol by Tk 44 to Tk 130.
Transportation of goods through the country’s largest land port Benapole has been crippled due to the transport fare hike following the recent price hike in fuel oils. Businessmen at the port alleged that transport owners have increased the truck fare abnormally after the fuel price hike. As a result, they can’t send goods across the country as trucks are not available now, which created chaos in the transport system of the port. Importers, transport agents and C & F agents are struggling to send goods to various places in the country imported from India. Meanwhile, passengers of Benapole who returned home from India have to count additional money as all long route buses have increased the fare from Tk 200 to Tk 700 in different categories. Importers said they used to pay Tk 15,000 to 21,000 a trip of a goods-laden truck from Benapole to Dhaka. But now, owners of the trucks are charging Tk 25,000 to 28,000 which is too much abnormal compared to the recent price hike of fuel. Importers cannot release goods from the port due to a lack of trucks despite paying duty to the port customs, they lamented. Read: Revenue declined by Tk 26.75 cr due to covid restrictions on Benapole port On the other hand, some importers of Dhaka said they can’t bring the imported goods to factories because of additional truck fares. Anwar Ali Anu, an importer of Jashore, said he brought goods from Benapole to Jashore by truck at Tk 5,000 maximum in the last month. But now truck owners are charging Tk 11,000 for the same amount of goods. “This additional truck fare will trigger us to the losses,” he added. Benapole Transport Agency Owners’ Association General Secretary Azim Uddin said importers will have to pay Tk 10,000 additional fare per truck as fuel cost has increased the pressure on the transport sector. Echoing the same, Atikuzzaman Sony, president of the organisation said businessmen don’t get a truck or covered van despite offering additional fares increasing suffering for the importers. Benapole Port Importers-Exporters Association president Mohsin Milon said many businesses are giving additional fares for some goods which might be rotted.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said that she fully understands the sufferings of the people due to the recent price hike of fuel oil and electricity rationing. “We can realise the sufferings of the people,” she said while speaking at the meeting with organising secretaries of Awami League from eight divisions at her official residence Ganabhaban. Hasina, chief of the governing Awami League, assured that her government will surely cut down the fuel oil price when it will come down in the international market. “We will adjust the prices of fuel oil whenever it comes down in the world market. I have given that directive too,” she said. Referring to ongoing power crisis and the countrywide load-shedding, she said that people have to endure this pain for some more days. “When the coal-fired electricity stations go into production, our problems with power will fade away,” she said. The prime minister admitted that the government has given the opposition parties to go for movement against it. “Our opposition is getting a scope to wage movement. Let them do that. I also want that,” she said. In this connection, she said that today she has directed relevant authorities to allow the opposition to continue their agitation and not to arrest anyone. “If they want to besiege the Prime Minister office, let them do that,” she said. She also said that people know very well that her government has tried with utmost sincerity to tackle the fuel oil price and electricity production. “Opposition will try to utilise this , but if they do anything excessive people will ultimately suffer more for that. They have to realise that,” she said. She said she has doubts about the success of the opposition protest movement that surely will harm the country. “But we will be able to handle that, I have that belief," she stated. PM Hasina blamed Ukraine-Russia war, the subsequent sanctions and counter-sanctions for the current economic problems of the country that hit when it was turning around from the grip of coronavirus pandemic impact quite well. Also read: PM Hasina assassination attempt: Fugitive death row convict held in city “The USA and Russia are the most gainers from the sanctions and counter-sanctions as the prices of US and Russian currencies have increased,” she said. She also said that middle and lower- middle class people around the wolrd are the worst suffers of the war, sanctions and counter-sanctions. The premier came down heavily on a section of people who increased the prices of everything taking the advantage of war and fuel price hike. “There is a section of businesspeople who hike the prices illogically. There is no reason for raising the prices of everything. But they are increasing the prices," she regretted. She urged the people to increase production and produce whatever they can. “ We are facing problems in those items which are dependent on import.” Recalling the August 15 bloodshed, she said she wonders why did they kill my father, mother and brothers. “What was their fault," she asked. She said that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tried to establish a pro-people administration and decentralise the power to the grassroots of people. “It seems that whoever wants to play a role in developing people's life in this country must have to face a disaster. This is reality," she said. She said that this is very much unfortunate that whenever people of the country started to live a better life the vested quarter started to hatch conspiracy. “There is a section of people who never wants the welfare of the people. When the independence becomes meaningful, good results of the independence reach to the people, we see there is an effort always to put hurdle on that,” she said. She put emphasis on strengthening the party and its activities, and to remain beside the people as it always did in the past. Hasina said Awami League always believes in democracy, principle and power of the people. She said that military rulers Ziaur Rahman, HM Ershad and ex-PM Khaleda Zia of BNP patronised and awarded the killers of Bangabandhu and granted them immunity from any court trial.
Awami League is not worried about the protests by allies against the recent fuel price hike, said the party’s general secretary Obaidul Quader on Thursday. He said this in response to queries from journalists after an emergency meeting of the party at its central office on Bangabandhu Avenue. Quader said the partners in the AL-led 14-party alliance have the right to organize their own programmes. Also read: Next election will be held on time: Quader “If they want to do it, they will do it. It doesn't matter,” he said when asked about the protest programmes by some alliance partners against the sudden increase in the fuel price amid high inflation. "Our alliance is an election alliance, it is a strategic alliance. There is no ideal issue here. So why did we have an alliance with the Jatya Party ? You have to think about these things," he said. Asked whether there was any discussion in the party before the increase in the price of fuel oil, the general secretary said it is up to the government. Also read: Quader defends sudden fuel price hike as step to halt losses These party meetings do not discuss such matters. Officially it is decided by the government and here the head of the Ministry of Power and Energy is the prime minister, he noted. "This has been done considering the whole global situation,” he said reiterating that the government had to raise the price as it had no other option. The government does not intend to hurt the people, he said. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has assured the price will be reduced as soon as the price of oil falls in the world market," he also said. Quader said that the AL government had reduced the price of electricity four times in the past. "There is no such example with BNP. It only talks tall. There was no electricity during their time. There were only pillars, but no electricity. People at that time suffered 13-14 hours of load shedding. Can BN deny it? Today they talk about electricity. We have provided 100% electricity. This situation (crisis) is due to the world situation today. We will go back on our promise when the normal time comes."
The Cabinet on Thursday directed the Energy Division to reiterate to the people the justification behind the huge increase in the prices of fuel triggering a public outcry. The directive came from the Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who joined it through a virtual platform from her official residence Ganobhaban. Other cabinet members were connected from the Bangladesh Secretariat. The cabinet was informed about what the Energy Ministry or Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) told the press in details about the fuel prices, said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam replying to a question at a press briefing. “The Energy Ministry was asked to brief (the media) again over it,” he said, adding that the BPC chairman already spoke in details about the matter at the recent press briefing. Read: Cabinet approves draft Finance Company Bill Asked if the government would revise the hike, the Cabinet secretary said, “They (the ministry or BPC) will make all things clear.” In an abrupt midnight move last week, the government hiked fuel prices by up to 51 per cent citing losses incurred by the state-run petroleum agency owing to global high import costs. The controversial move has triggered public anger and protests across the country.
A huge rally of BNP protesting the latest hike in fuel prices and power crisis is underway in front of its Nayapaltan central office in the capital. The rally, organised by BNP’s Dhaka south and north city units, formally began with the recitation from the Holy Quran around 1:50pm. Thousands of leaders and activists of the party and its associate bodies started to gather in the area since morning blocking one side of the road. Vehicles were moving on the other side of the road, stretching from Bijoynagar crossing to Fakirerpool, causing immense suffering to commuters. BNP senior leaders, including Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and standing committee members, will address the rally. Read: BNP works out long-term protest against fuel price hike
BNP has taken various programmes to continue the party’s protest against the increase in fuel prices, soaring prices of daily essentials and load shedding for a long time. BNP standing committee, the highest policymaking body of the party, finalized the programmes at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, said a press release on Wednesday. As part of the programmes, the party will hold a press conference on the power crisis on August 13. The party will also hold another press conference on the rise in prices of daily essentials and inflation on August 17. BNP will also arrange a seminar on the energy sector in the capital on August 19. Besides, the party has decided to continue protest rallies and demonstrations in metropolitan cities and their all wards, districts and upazilas from August 22. The meeting also decided to make its Thursday’s rally at Nayapaltan in the capital in protest against the fuel price hike a success. Earlier on Monday, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced a two-day programme, including Thursday’s protest rally, against the latest hike in fuel prices, transport fares and soaring prices of all essential commodities. The programmes are also meant for registering the party’s protest against the ongoing load shedding and the killing of two leaders of its associate bodies by police in Bhola. Besides, the party’s all metropolitan city and district units will arrange protest rallies across the country on Friday. In an abrupt move, the government increased the prices of diesel, octane and petrol by 42.5 per cent, 51.7 per cent and 51 per cent respectively on Friday night. Currently, diesel is being sold at Tk 114 per litre, octane at Tk 135 per litre and petrol at Tk 130 per litre.