No price hike before snapping illegal gas connections: Consumer groups

20 Jun 2018, 21:32

NTV Online

Dhaka: Participants from consumer groups in the public hearing Wednesday said that the energy regulator in no way should allow gas companies to raise price until they stop illegal connections.

‘It will be totally illegal to raise gas price allowing consuming gas through illegal connections,’ said eminent energy expert Prof Badrul Imam while making his statement at a hearing held at Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC).

He said some 10-12 percent gas is pilfered through illegal connections and beneficiaries of such illegal connections are not paying any bulls which push up the cost of the companies.

BERC organised two separate sessions to listen to the arguments of the Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company Ltd and Pashchimanchal Gas Company Ltd and also counter arguments of consumer groups at TCB Auditorium in the city.

Both the Bakhrabad Gas and Pashchimanchal Gas proposed to raise 75 percent gas price for different consumer groups except household and commercial users.

Bakhrabad Gas operates its business in Cumilla, Chandpur, Brahambanbaria and adjoining areas while Pashchimanchal Gas runs business mainly in districts under Rajshahi Division.

They argued that the government is importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) at higher cost compared with local gas price which will push up their distribution cost.

However, a technical evaluation committee of BERC found that the companies have huge surplus money with banks in FDR form which can help them to cover their extra expenses.

It also suggested for some reform initiatives which can help raise their revenue generation.

Advisor to the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Prof Shamsul Alam found that illegal gas connections have been the main problem of the gas distribution companies including Titas Gas.

He said different government agencies found in their investigation that about 350 mmcfd gas is pilfered from Titas network.

‘People cannot pay for this stolen gas’, he said it is not clear why the government is importing costly LNG without taking any action against the illegal gas users’, he said.

BERC Chairman Monwar Islam presided over the hearing.