Dhaka – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has defended the regulator’s recent decision of gas price hike saying people should accept the new gas price for the sake of sustained economic progress.
“If you really want Bangladesh to grow, you’ll have to accept the (new) gas price,” the prime minister told a news conference in Dhaka on Monday.
The government has been criticized since the recent gas price hike came into effect on July 1 that made the life a little costlier.
The news conference was arranged on the Prime Minister’s recently-concluded trip to China where she held bilateral talks with Chinese leaders for further enhancement of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Defending the decision of gas price hike, the Prime Minister her government has targeted 8.2 per cent growth in the current financial year. She said energy is most important to sustain the growth. “And we have to import LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas)”.
Hasina said the government has been giving a huge subsidy in gas as the import cost of per cubic meter LNG is 62.12 taka and it is being sold at the rate of 9.80 taka per cubic meter.
The amount of subsidy in the sector is more than 1,000 crore takas, she said adding that “either we should to refrain from increasing economic growth by reducing LNG import or accepting the price hike in the interest of economic development.”
She said every country adjusts the gas price in line with international market price.
Referring to reported gas price decrease in India, Hasina said price of gas in Bangladesh is still much less than that of India, which adjusts the energy price twice in a year.
Responding to protest against the gas price hike, including a general strike called by left leaning parties in Bangladesh, Hasina said the leftist and rightist have mingled in one point.
“They have forgotten the situation we passed through 8-9 years ago.”
She said Bangladesh might not face the crisis had the then government allowed Indian proposal in 2004-2005 to import gas from Myanmar installing pipeline through Bangladesh.
She criticized the then government of Khaleda Zia for not being farsighted.
“I would have accept the proposal had I been in power at that time and ensured out share of gas from the pipeline,” she told the news conference adding that Bangladesh might not import now LNG at a higher price if the project worked at that time.
The Prime Minister returned home on Saturday wrapping up her five-day official visit to China.
To another question, Hasina said that China would do whatever necessary to accelerate repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, who fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar.
She said Chinese leaders assured Bangladesh of doing everything possible so that the refugees go back to their home.
“China is attached to Myanmar. Despite this, it assured that China will talk to Myanmar for repatriating Rohingya,” she said.