The BNP has alleged that the government was forced to effect the fuel oil price hike due to its own corruption.
The government raised the prices of diesel, octane, kerosene and petrol on Thursday for the fifth time in four years in a bid to cut subsidy to the sector. The opposition had earlier threatened to enforce a general strike a day after the hike.
“You (the government) won’t need to hike fuel prices any more if you stop corruption and loot, and instead focus on increasing efficiency,” party’s Standing Committee Member Moudud Ahmed told a programme in the city on Saturday.
Ahmed also said the government’s ‘inefficiency and mismanagement’ compelled it to go in for the hike.
“The decision to set up quick rental-based power plants is a wrong one. The quick rental plan was undertaken only to facilitate corruption. The government has to inject billions of Taka in subsidy [to the sector] because of its wrong decision,” he alleged a day before the opposition is slated to enforce a countrywide shutdown protesting the latest hike.
“Everything will become costlier because of fuel oil price hike and will have a negative impact on every sector of the economy,” said Ahmed.
This time round, the prices of petrol and octane were raised by Tk 5 per litre, and diesel and kerosene by Tk 7. The government, however, said it will have to provide a subsidy of Tk 11.77 a litre for diesel and Tk 12.15 for kerosene despite the hike.
It contended that the decision to hike fuel prices was influenced by higher rates in the international markets and the high amount of subsidy in the fuel and power sectors. It also admitted that the cost of living would increase due to the hike and it would fuel the inflation.
Sheikh Hasina’s government has been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to increase fuel and power prices by cutting on subsidies.
The demand of fuel oil is increasing as the government has resorted to setting up fuel-based power plants to meet the ever-increasing demand for power.
The subsidy in the fuel sector this fiscal is an estimated Tk 320 billion, which equals four percent of the national GDP.
Economists and businessmen have predicted that the increased petroleum prices would push up agriculture and industrial production costs.
Ahmed said the opposition would be forced to continue their ‘non-cooperation movement’ if fuel and power prices were hiked in future.
Ahmed also called upon the government not to prevent their strike on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni backed the latest hike and said the price of fuel oil was still lower compared to several neighbouring countries.