The Energy and Mineral Resources Division has been accused of violating the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Act in fixing diesel and kerosene prices.
As per the proposal of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC), the Energy and Mineral Resources Division has increased the price of diesel and kerosene by Tk 15 per liter on November 3. As a result of the increased oil prices, the fare of public transport has already been increased.
Energy expert Professor M Shamsul Alam told Bangladesh Post that the energy division could not do it in any way. Because their instruction is in conflict with the law of BERC. They have committed punishable crimes. Violation of the BERC law can result in both fines and imprisonment for the officers.
‘Consumers will get their benefits if the prices of all petroleum products are fixed through BERC, otherwise, one-sided benefits will always be seen. It is against the public interest to set government prices and private prices separately for the same product,’ he added.
The CAB has demanded to cancel the price hike order and the price hike proposal be sent to the BERC. The demand was raised at a virtual press conference on Monday.
CAB claimed that BPC had illegally collected an additional taka 43,734.7 crore from consumers in revenue demand. With this money, CAB has proposed to form an Energy Price Stabilized Fund and adjust the price of diesel and kerosene with subsidy from there. For example, gas development fund, energy security fund, and power development fund have been formed with the money of consumers for support on emergency periods.
According to sub-section 34 (4) of the BERC Act, the commission has sole jurisdiction to fix the price of all fuel oil, including petroleum products, on the basis of a public hearing of all parties.
So BPC has to submit a proposal to increase fuel oil price to BERC as per Section 34 (6) of the Act. But BPC violated subsection 34 (6) of the Act and proposed the price hike to the Energy Division out of the jurisdiction. The Energy Division increased the price as per the proposal violating sub-section 34 (4).
According to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Act 2003, violation of BERC Act is a punishable offense. The punishment for that crime is fine or imprisonment or both. Therefore, it is necessary to take action against the concerned officials of BPC and Energy Division for violating the BERC Act.
For more than the last five years, BPC has been collecting additional revenue at taka 43,734.78 crore from consumers out of its jurisdiction by maintaining the looting rates set by the Energy Division.
Asked about this, Md. Anisur Rahman, Senior Secretary of Energy Division told Bangladesh Post that ‘the price of diesel and kerosene has been fixed in compliance with all legal procedures. If someone thinks it is illegal then he or they can go to court. We will deal with it according to the law.’
‘It takes 2-3 months to set the petroleum price through BERC. Therefore, in case of emergency, the Energy Division sets the price of petroleum products,’ he added.
Earlier, on September 9, the Energy Division sent a letter to the BERC, where it said that the commission could fix the price of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) only for the private sector, but it would not be able to fix the price of government LPG. BPC, another state-owned company, would set the price of government LPG as before.
Protesting the Energy Division’s directive, experts say it is a clear violation of the law. If the directive is implemented, the power of the Energy Regulatory Commission will be curtailed.