Government agency accuses LPG businesses of ripping people off

The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection will take action if traders do not follow the rate fixed by the government, says its director general

Published : 7 Feb 2023, 09:56 PM
Updated : 7 Feb 2023, 09:56 PM

The energy regulator has raised the retail prices of liquefied petroleum gas or LPG by 21.57 percent to Tk 1,498 per 12 kg cylinder for February. Still, traders sell the fuel for cooking at much higher rates, sometimes as much as Tk 1,700.

The price was already higher than the rate the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission fixed on Feb 2 as the traders cited a supply crunch for the exorbitant prices.

At Mirpur in Dhaka, the shops showcase empty cylinders as the traders say they do not have LPG when a customer refuses to pay higher than the BERC-fixed price.

The same traders are coming up with cylinders full of gas when a customer agrees to pay the hiked price.

"Wholesalers, retailers and everyone else in the LPG business are trying to reap the benefit by plundering people," said AHM Shafiquzzaman, director general of the government's consumer rights agency.

He said the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection found evidence of traders charging much higher than the fixed price during a drive last Thursday.

"We're scrutinising the information. We're doing some table work and will reach a decision after consulting all quarters," he said.


Roadside makeshift stalls in Dhaka raised tea prices some days ago after sugar and milk became costlier. They are reeling from the LPG price hike now as they need two to three 12 kg gas cylinders a month.

Many households depend on LPG for cooking as the government has stopped providing new gas connections. The latest price hike has become an extra burden on people from the lower income groups as they need to spend Tk 400 to 500 more on gas.

Shanto Mia, a tea seller in Mohakhali, said he bought a 12 kg cylinder of Omera LPG at Tk 1,800, and the trader asked for Tk 1,900 for one plastic cylinder of Beximco.

"If this continues, a small stall like mine will have to spend Tk 5,000 to 6,000 on gas. Then how shall we run the business and make a profit? We'll be doomed."

Shopkeepers at four of the five stores visited in Mirpur said they did not have gas-filled cylinders and did not sell any in the past week.

But at one point, the traders blamed each other for hoarding the gas cylinders and selling only at a higher price.

"I truly don't have the cylinders in my store. How can I make a profit by selling it at a high price? The nearby stores have more cylinders, but they don't admit it," said a gas cylinder store owner.

Gas was available only in one hardware store, Multi Enterprise, in the Mirpur stadium area. The shopkeepers said they had gas-filled cylinders of JMI and Jamuna.

It had cylinders of G-gas, Omera, Total, Basundhara, Jamuna, Unigas, JMI, Beximco, Delta Gas Igas and Bengal Gas, but all were empty.

On Jan 27, a dealer of Omera Gas sold them a 12kg cylinder for Tk 1,550, said Mamun Khan, owner of the hardware store. "I have the voucher with me. Now we're selling each cylinder with a profit of Tk 50."

"The companies say supply fell on low gas imports due to the dollar crunch," Mamun said, claiming the price is mainly raised at the companies' depots.

At least 120,000 tonnes of LPG have been used monthly across Bangladesh for the last few months.

According to insiders in the sector, factories have increased the use of LPG due to a supply crunch through pipelines.

LPG import has remained unchanged, but the increased demand has put pressure on supply, said Azam J Chowdhury, president of the LPG Operators Association of Bangladesh.

He said consumers using gas for cooking are getting less priority than industrial clients.

The price is based on the balance between demand and supply, he said and alleged the parameters used by the BERC to determine the monthly gas price could have been more practical.

"That's why the BERC price is never effective," he said.

DNCRP Director General Shafiquzzaman did not agree to it.

"We'll definitely object and take action if they sell LPG at a higher price than the one set by the regulator. They should go to the BERC or the energy ministry if they have any issue with the price," he said.