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DHAKA: Fuel prices in Bangladesh rose more than 51% on Saturday – the biggest rise in the country’s history – as the government said it tried to keep oil supplies normal.
Bangladesh’s economy, worth $416 billion, has been one of the fastest growing in the world for years, but the country has struggled with rising global food and fuel prices, which have inflated his import bill. The government in July applied for a loan from the International Monetary Fund, which experts say aims to create a buffer in its reserves.
The price of petrol has risen by 51.1% and diesel by 42.5%, Dhaka announced on Friday evening, leading thousands of Bangladeshis to rush to petrol stations across the country to try to make the full before the entry into force of the increase.
The price hike comes after the state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation suffered a loss of more than 80 billion taka ($840 million) between February and July due to fuel subsidies, the ministry said. of Energy, Energy and Mineral Resources in a press release.
“There was no choice but to raise prices to keep fuel oil supply normal,” Energy, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Nasrul Hamid told reporters on Saturday.
Hamid called for patience and acknowledged that the new prices “won’t seem tolerable to everyone”.
“We repeatedly ask everyone to be frugal, save fuel and use cars less often because the transport sector is the biggest consumer of diesel,” he said.
“We will readjust the prices if they drop in the international market.”
Bangladesh’s inflation rate hit 7.48% in July amid soaring global energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although oil has fallen in recent weeks.
Economists said Saturday’s price hike could have been implemented slowly, as the increase is expected to hit badly poorer people already under pressure due to rising living costs.
“If higher prices were unavoidable to reduce losses, the government could have done so gradually. Like every six months, the price of fuel could be increased by 4 to 5%. It would be much easier for people to bear,” Asaduzzaman, a former research director at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, told Arab News.
Asaduzzaman said he was worried about the effect on food supply in Dhaka, with many essential items being transported from different parts of the country to the capital.
“This price hike will hugely increase inflation as it will make the supply chain in the country much more expensive. Food supplies will be hit at the highest level,” he said.
“It is the poor who will suffer the most from this increase in fuel prices.”
Rising fuel prices “will create enormous pressure on people’s lives” and fuel inflation, Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Center for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka, told Arab News.
Khatun said the increase will have an immediate effect on transport, house rental, electricity bills, industrial production and irrigation in Bangladesh.
Amir Hossain, a farmer from the town of Rajshahi, told Arab News that rising prices will increase his irrigation costs.
“A fuel price increase of around 50% is really unbearable for poor people like me. Our cost of living will increase at an even higher rate. But where will I get the increased revenue? said Hossain.