Gas price hike protesters are not trying to understand reality: Hasina

  • Parliament Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-07-12 04:23:24 BdST

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said people protesting against the gas price hike are not trying to understand the reality on the ground and asked them to think about what they really want.

In her closing speech at the budget session of parliament on Thursday, she described how the government was giving subsidy to import gas in order to keep the prices down and boost industrial production.

After the government raised gas prices by an average of 32.8 percent from July 1, some leftist parties enforced a general strike supported by the BNP while the ruling Awami League’s allies also raised objection. 

The government may have hiked gas prices in order to ease the burden of subsidy for importing LNG, but the move will ultimately result in losses than profit, economists, businesses, and consumer rights groups believe.

“I don’t know what the people who have agitated against the rise in gas prices want. We are bringing (gas) by giving subsidies. We are not taking (the money) from the people even though our revenue is decreasing. The cost must be considered,” Hasina said.

“What will happen if we can’t supply gas? Employment will be hampered, so will production and export. The entire country will plunge into misery,” she said.

Businesses had cried for gas and said they were ready to pay for gas no matter what the cost, the prime minister said. “Now we’ve done exactly what they had asked for.”

“But those who are protesting and giving lectures now are not actually trying to understand the reality or seeing the development we’ve made. It’s unfortunate,” she said.

Hasina said her government believes the boost in production and development after the import of LNG with subsidies will ease the pressure on people.

Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament Raushon Ershad, a leader of the Awami League’s key ally the Jatiya Party, had raised question over gas prices in parliament.

The prime minister responded by saying that BERC evaluation found it was necessary to raise the prices by at least 75 percent to Tk 61.12 per cubic metre gas. But the government has set the price at Tk 9.8 by providing Tk 51.32 in subsidy so that the people do not have to shoulder the financial pressure.