Time to adjust fuel oil prices: FBCCI
28 January 2015, Nirapad News: The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) has pitched for a reduction in domestic fuel prices in view of a continuing downslide in international petroleum prices. This was a key demand the country’s apex representative body of private enterprises raised at a press conference in Dhaka on Wednesday.
The FBCCI’s First Vice President Safiul Islam Mohiuddin told journalists at an interactive session held at the trade body’s headquarters that it was time the government cut domestic fuel oil prices. “International oil prices have slumped from $110 (per barrel) to $30 a barrel. This is the time to adjust domestic prices,” he said. He hoped a revision would be effected soon. FBCCI Director Md Helal Uddin pointed to a fuel crisis as a major impediment to investment. “There will be little investment under the present circumstances with fuel proving to be the main problem. New gas connections are not being sanctioned, and land prices are skyrocketing in places where gas is available. And petroleum prices are not being cut either,” he said. He wanted the government to review the fuel situation and supply oil at gas prices, even if it meant raising the price of gas. Petroleum product prices in Bangladesh had been last raised in 2013, when international prices had touched $122 per barrel. The rates fixed then have remained unchanged despite a sharp drop in international prices over the past two years. At present people shell out Tk 99 for a litre of Octane, Tk 96 for petrol, and Tk 68 for kerosene and diesel. Differences within the government on the issue surfaced last September when Finance Minister AMA Muhith suggested oil price adjustments but Planning Minister AHM Mustafa opposed the idea. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, too, had ruled out any cut in petroleum product prices at a meeting with business leaders the same month. FBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmed said “doing business has to be made easy”. Among the other demands the FBCCI raised were the lowering of interest rates, improvement in power distribution, land availability of industries, and a friendlier VAT system