Due to the current global situation and risk of fuel smuggling to neighbouring India, fuel oil prices have been adjusted, says State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid.
The state minister made the statement while responding to Jatiya Party (JaPa) MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu in Parliament on Tuesday.
The JaPa lawmaker had asked Nasrul to inform the nation of the steps taken by the government to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and rising commodity prices.
Opposition lawmakers came down hard on the government for increasing fuel oil prices to record levels which added to the woes of the people already reeling from the Covid-induced economic stagnation.
The state minister said, "When the Ukraine-Russia war suddenly broke out in January, 2022, the price of a barrel of crude was $170.
"If prices [in Bangladesh] were increased then, it would have to be increased by Tk60/litre. We were waiting for prices [in the global market] to drop a bit to make the necessary adjustments."
"When prices slowly came down to $139, we still had a difference of Tk40/litre in fuel prices with India. This posed a threat of fuel smuggling to India from Bangladesh. That's why we had to take these measures.
"The current global context, oil supply shortage, rising [crude] oil prices and the risk of smuggling forced us to adjust prices. This is an adjustment, not an increase."
Criticising the opposition party, he said that they want to keep their heads buried under the sand like ostriches.
"They [the opposition] don't care about what is happening in the world...they talk about Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) making a profit of Tk48,000 crore.
"Do they want government agencies to go bankrupt? Of the profit made by BPC, Tk45,000 has been provided to the government to run the country," the minister added.
Responding to the opposition's criticism of "capacity charges" for power generation, he said, "There is no such thing as rental power. We had short-term, medium-term and long-term plans. "The short-term plan was to set up power plants immediately, in a few months.
"That's why we rented plants. That is, in English, called 'rental power.' Not even a single powerplant is a rental one now. Neither there is any capacity charge."
"Paying capacity charge for power generation is the norm all over the world. You can't have a pant without this," Nasrul Hamid added.