Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said she fully understands the sufferings of the people caused by the recent hike in fuel oil prices and power rationing, and assured that her government will surely slash fuel prices once they drop in the international market.
"We can realise the sufferings of the people…We will adjust fuel oil prices whenever they come down in the world market. I have given that directive too," said Premier Hasina, also the president of the ruling Awami League (AL), at a meeting with AL organising secretaries from eight divisions at Gonobhaban on Sunday, reports UNB.
Referring to the ongoing power crisis and countrywide load-shedding, she said people have to endure this pain for some more days.
"When the coal-fired electricity stations go into production, our problems with power will fade away," she added.
Echoing the prime minister, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid yesterday said fuel prices would be adjusted soon and requested everyone to be patient for one or two months.
"A fall in oil prices in the international market will actually bring down the prices in the country. Prices will be adjusted several times if necessary," he said at a seminar entitled "Energy Security in Bangladesh: Volatile International Market", organised by the Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB).
The government is closely monitoring the global situation, Nasrul Hamid said, adding, "It hasn't been long since the fuel prices were adjusted. I would urge everyone to be patient for a month or two. We are optimistic that if oil prices start to decline, we can certainly bring them down with a good adjustment."
The government earlier this month increased fuel oil prices by up to 51.6% – the steepest hike in 20 years, dealing a big blow to people already overwhelmed by skyrocketing prices of essential goods amid record inflation.
'No lack of effort in exploring gas'
At the FERB seminar, State Minister Nasrul Hamid said the government does not lack efforts in exploring gas in the local fields.
"Every year we conduct gas exploration at a specific rate. Two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) seismic surveys are under implementation. In eight years since 2009, the Awami League government has increased gas production by 1,000mmcf to 2,700mmcf" he said.
"Besides the state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex), we have also engaged some international oil and gas companies to explore gas both onshore and offshore," he said, adding that South Korean Posco Daewoo Corporation was the latest inclusion in the offshore gas exploration drive.
'Let the opposition besiege PMO if they want'
The prime minister yesterday admitted that the government has allowed the opposition parties to go for movement against it.
"Our opposition is getting a scope to wage movements. Let them do that. I also want that," she said, reports UNB.
She said she has directed relevant authorities to allow the opposition to continue their agitation and not to arrest anyone.
"If they want to besiege the Prime Minister's Office, let them do that," she said.
She also said people know very well that her government has tried with utmost sincerity to tackle the fuel oil price and electricity production.
"Opposition will try to utilise this, but if they do anything excessive people will ultimately suffer more for that. They have to realise that," she said.
She said she has doubts about the success of the opposition protest movement that surely will harm the country.
"But we will be able to handle that, I have that faith," she stated.
Section of traders behind price hike
PM Hasina blamed the Ukraine-Russia war and the subsequent sanctions and counter-sanctions for the current economic problems of the country that hit when it was turning around from the grip of the coronavirus pandemic impact quite well.
"The USA and Russia gained the most from the sanctions and counter-sanctions as the prices of US and Russian currencies have increased," she said.
She also said middle and lower-middle class people around the world are the worst sufferers of the war, sanctions and counter-sanctions.
The premier came down heavily on a section of people who increased the prices of everything taking the advantage of war and fuel price hike.
"There is no reason for raising the prices of everything. But they are increasing the prices," she said.
She urged the people to increase production and produce whatever they can. "We are facing problems in those items which are dependent on import."