After the show cause, LPG prices are getting higher
Earlier Tk. 50-70 excess than the fixed rate was collected. Now there are reports of LP gas being sold at a higher price of Tk. 100 to Tk. 200 depending on the place.
In this month, the maximum retail price of a 12 kg cylinder has been set at Tk. 1284, but Omera Group dealers in Rangpur are charging Tk. 1330 and Beximco Group dealers are charging Tk. 1350. Sellers are selling at Tk. 1400 by adding Tk. 50. Again, there are reports of sales at the rate of Tk. 1500 in some areas.
Neither the retailers nor the dealers, the importers themselves comply with the fixed rates announced by the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC). Bashundhara LPG, Omera LPG, Total LPG and United Group's Unigas are not paying attention for keeping higher prices. After multiple rounds of notices, only Omera Group responded. And a few months later, Total asked for time to respond. Total and United were condemned on July 11, while Omera and Bashundhara were condemned by BERC on May 22.
Omera, in its reply, said that they mentioned the transport cost and distributor's commission on the invoice. Adjust this amount later. Others are still ignoring BERC's letter. Others, including Omera, have continued to sell at higher prices than before.
In July, 12 kg cylinders were sold at dealer level at Tk 924, but United LPG sold at Tk 1074, Total Gas at Tk. 1019, BERC found evidence. On the other hand, Bashundhara was condemned for selling at a higher price of Tk. 50 and Omera at a higher price of Tk. 75.
United LPG Limited AGM Raisa told Barta24.com that BERC fixed the rates on 3rd, subject to system updates. Do we stop selling until then?
As per the BERC guidelines, the new rates are to be effective from 6 pm on the 3rd. The invoice is dated 5th, for the sake of argument, if we assume the previous month's rate, it is also an average. In the previous month (June) it was supposed to be sold to the distributor for Tk. 1002. And the highest retail price was Tk. 1074. So does United LPG never pay distributor and retailer commission. When asked such a question, she did not answer.
BERC Chairman Nurul Amin told Barta24.com, I was out of the country, no updates are known at this moment. I have heard that some companies have responded to the complaint. Their answers will be scrutinized, and legal action will be taken against those who don't.
Asked what kind of action is available, he said, "They are our licensees, we have the power to cancel their license."
He said, no one is above the law. Everyone has to sell LP gas at fixed rate. Importers objected to the dollar rate, so we increased it there. Some other places are also given benefits. Even then those who do not comply with the price will not be given a discount.
He said, we have strengthened the drives. On the 4th of this month, I conducted an operation with the magistrate in Narayanganj. I raided Gazipur again on September 9, where a distributor was fined Tk. 50,000. Two retailers were also fined. Now I went and saw that it will not happen. If any irregularity is found, immediate punishment will be given.
The question was that the big culprits are the importers; they are the ones charging higher prices. What do distributors and retailers have to do? In response, BERC chairman said, we sent a team to the market and conducted a survey. Those committing this crime will not be spared. We will definitely bring them under the law.
On April 12, 2021, BERC announced the first LP gas price. Then a total commission of Tk. 359.40 per 12 kg cylinder was fixed for LPG importers, dealers and retailers. Loab (LPG Importers' Association) raised objections on the amount of commission on the same day of price announcement. They also put pressure on BERC by boycotting monthly rate announcements. Loab president Azam J Chowdhury even threatened to stop the import of LPG. BERC was forced to increase the commission from Tk. 359 to Tk. 441 on October 10 after 7 months. Still, companies are charging higher prices.
After the announcement of the first rate, BERC had said that it would take some time to adapt to the new system. Everything will be fine with time. Two and a half years have passed, and now there is more decline than improvement day by day.
BERC was just a stickler for retailers. After the new chairman joined the commission, this is the first time it has looked at the LPG Company. Even then, the violence has not subsided. This constitutional institution looks very helpless. Not only importers but also many government companies are not willing to pay attention to it. Some have called it the Paper Tiger.