The energy regulator has refixed the retail price of 12.5 kg bottled liquified petroleum gas (LPG) marketed by the government at Tk591, while the price of the 12 kg LPG sold in cylinders by private companies at Tk975.
The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) issued a public circular on the revised prices on Monday with immediate effect.
Later on the day, BERC Chairman Md Abdul Jalil announced the new prices at a virtual press briefing.
“The private companies’ LPG price was fixed on the basis of Saudi CP,” he told reporters.
On January 14, the commission had held a mass hearing in this regard amid growing criticism from different quarters over whimsical charging at the retail level.
The hearing was held as per Sections 22 (Kha) and 34 of the BERC Act 2003, following the High Court’s August 25, 2020 directive to refix the LPG tariffs in line with a 2016 writ petition moved by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh.
The BERC did not revise the prices since 2009.
Some BERC officials said the move to fix LPG prices came against the backdrop of a show-cause notice issued by the High Court seeking explanation as to why action should not be taken against the regulator for its failure to set the prices.
Prior to the latest circular, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) used to set the price of LPG produced by the state-owned company and the private companies would do so on their own.
There were allegations that the LPG of both public and private companies are selling in the retail market at an inflated price of about Tk1,000-Tk1,200 for a 12.5 kg container while its actual rate is between Tk700-Tk800, as there has been no monitoring or mandatory mechanism to fix their prices at the retail level.
Currently, only 18 out of 58 approved companies, including state-owned BPC, market LPG across the country after importing it.
These companies have been operating in the market with more than 95% market share by annually importing 1.2 million tons of bulk LPG from mainly Middle-East while the state-owned company is locally producing 25,000 tons of LPG from locally produced condensates at different gas fields.
Abdul Jalil said it will be very tough for them to ensure the enforcement of the new LPG prices as they do not have any mechanism or offices at the upazila level.
“We will need to formulate some new rules and regulations to ensure the effectiveness of the new prices of LPG," he said adding that the administrative bodies will have to enforce the price by their own administrative measures.
“BERC is the regulator, not an enforcement agency,” he defended his position saying that this is first time the regulator announced the LPG prices.