The Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company is seeking a hike in residential gas price yet again amid the ongoing energy shortage, despite severe inflation draining the wallets of people.
Titas, in a letter to Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) sent on May 2, proposed raising gas price from Tk 990 to TK 1,379 for a single burner stove, and from Tk 1,080 to Tk 1,591 for a double burner stove.
The government had increased household gas prices in May last year. At that time, the BERC calculated the monthly bill assuming 55 cubic meters of gas consumption per month for a single burner, and 60 cubic meters for a double burner.
The Titas letter read, “Without any realistic survey on nearly 25 lakh consumers, the BERC fixed gas consumption of 55 cubic meters for one burner, and 60 cubic meters for two burners, which triggered system losses in Titas gas.
“A once profitable state-owned company is now facing financial losses.”
Titas has applied for redetermination of non-metered residential customers’ monthly gas consumption to 76.65 and 88.44 cubic meters against single burner and double burner respectively.
The company has argued in favour of the proposal that non-metered residential gas users use more gas than the limit set by the BERC.
Experts claim that last year’s BERC public hearing on gas price hike came up as having no basis in reality. They argue that prepaid meter customers use 35-40 cubic meters of gas per month, and pay half the bill compared to non-metered customers. Also, non-metered customers do not always get gas, resulting in overcharging even without using gas.
However, Titas in its petition stated, “Boiling water for water purification other than household cooking by non-metered residential customers, and factory workers in various industrial areas and sublet tenants in various residential areas take turns using gas for multi-family cooking, resulting in higher gas consumption than the average gas consumption in those areas.
“Prepaid metered residential customers use an average of 97 cubic meters of gas per month.”
The government had hiked gas prices by up to 179 per cent for four categories of consumers this January in a bid to withdraw subsidies and reduce fiscal deficit. At that time, gas prices were not increased for residential, CNG, fertiliser industry and tea garden users.
Commenting on the issue, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Senior Vice President Prof M Shamsul Alam said, “The BERC has fixed the average gas quantity for non-metered customers in the last order, but in reality many customers do not use that amount of gas.”
According to the commission, non-metered two-stove customers use 50 cubic meters of gas per month and single-stove customers use 45 cubic meters of gas per month.
The demand that Titas has made to change this limit is absurd, and the company wants to raise gas prices to legitimise their corruption and gas theft, it claims.