Address regulatory conflicts before setting LPG price

Dhaka, Sept 20 – Stakeholders at a meeting on Saturday suggested that the existing conflicting regulatory issues should be addressed before setting a price for liquified petroleum gas (LPG).“There are a number of bodies issuing regulatory orders. Sometimes it seems Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) is the regulator, sometimes it’s Energy and Mineral Division and sometimes it’s Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission. We’re still confused on the matter who is the actual regulator,” said Prof ASM Shamsul Alam, Advisor of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh.
The CAB advisor was echoed by Azam J Chowdhury, president of LPG Association of Bangladesh. He said that there a lot of conflicting regulatory roles being played by different bodies and agencies.
BERC organised the virtual meeting to exchange views on setting LPG price which was conducted by BERC member Syed Mokbul Elahi.
BERC Chairman Md Abdul Jalil also spoke on the occasion.
BERC deputy director Kamruzzaman, who made a presentation on overall market situation of LPG, said the regulatory body has moved for setting the LPG price following an energy division instruction in this regard.
As part of the move, the BERC has formed a committee consisting of representatives from different government organisations and agencies, he said.
He said now the country annually consumes 3.8 million metric tons of LPG while 27 companies are operating the business.
He said Bangladesh imports LPG from three countries—Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar. The transportation cost has been a big matter in determining the LPG price in the local market.
Taking part in the discussion, speakers said the BERC committee was formed with only government representatives, with no representatives from the private LPG operators or from the consumers.
Azam Chowdhury said each of the LPG operating companies have to pay about Tk 56.25 lakh as fees to different government agencies which could be easily reduced in order to reduce the price of such petroleum fuel.
He also LPG companies have been investing huge amounts of money for bottling purposes, which makes the petroleum gas costly.
Prof Shamsul Alam said the BERC has to prove it is an independent body with full freedom to work as regulator before setting LPG price. “Otherwise, none of its moves will be successful in setting price,” he said.
Dr Hosne Ara Begum of TMSS LPG said that the government should provide subsidy in LPG like in neighbouring India, to make it affordable to low-income consumers.
Eminent energy expert Prof Nurul Islam said pricing of LPG should be settled along with the price of natural gas. “If necessary, the gas price could be increased to reduce the LPG price,” he said. – UNB