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Haque said that the commission would announce the increased prices of natural gas in December with effect from January 1. ‘We have received the government’s nod in this regard,’ he said. ‘The decision of hiking gas prices could be avoided had the government exempted Petrobangla from paying the taxes of international oil companies in Bangladesh,’ Maksud said. The salaries and allowances of the government officials had been increased raising the cost of gas sup plies, he added. The energy commission last time raised the prices of natural gas by 26.29 per cent on an average at consumer level with effect from September 1, 2015. In August 2016, the commission held a series of public hearing on
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raising the prices again by 94 per cent on an average. Regarding the government’s decision of not reducing oil prices, Nasrul Hamid said, ‘Although we have sent a proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval to reduce the oil prices, the current market trend of fuel oils does not allow us to reduce the prices.’ On November 17, finance minister AMA Muhith told reporters that the government would cut the prices of fuel oils in the local market soon for higher economic ‘momentum.’ After midnight past April 24, the government slashed the prices of octane and petrol by Tk 10 per litre and diesel and kerosene by Tk 3 per litre. On March 31, the government also cut the price of furnace oil, mostly used by power plants, by 30 per cent from Tk 60 to Tk 42 a litre. The government drew severe criticism as the reduction in fuel oil prices left no impact on local market as well as on the cost of living as it did not lower the transport fares or electricity prices. Since June 2014, the price of Brent Crude started declining from $117 per barrel and dropped as low as $27.65 a barrel in January 2016 before rebounding to $56.82 on Monday. The government earned approximately Tk 10,000 crore in the form of taxes and duties from fuel oil and natural gas sector in 2015-16 financial year while it earned more than Tk 6,000 crore in profit.