18-party calls hartal for Sunday

The BNP-led 18-party alliance will enforce a countrywide daylong hartal on Sunday protesting the latest increase in fuel prices.

BNP spokesperson Tariqul Islam announced the hartal at a press conference at the BNP central office in the city’s Naya Paltan Friday morning.

Earlier on December 26 last year, speaking at a mass contact programme BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia said they would enforce hartal if the government hikes fuel prices.

The government on Thursday increased prices of diesel and kerosene by Tk 7 a litre, and octane and petrol by Tk 5 a litre to reduce its subsidy burden. The new prices have taken effect from Friday.

The price of diesel and kerosene has been raised to Tk 68 a litre, and the prices of octane and petrol have been increased to Tk 99 and Tk 96 a litre.

The government increased fuel prices by Tk 5 a litre the last time on December 30, 2011.

This is the first fuel price hike in the last one year. The Awami League-led government has so far increased fuel prices five times, including the latest one, since it came to power in December 2008.

Despite the latest increase, the government will have to give subsidy on diesel and kerosene by Tk 11.77 and Tk 12.15 a litre.

The latest rise will help the government, which plans to spend Tk 8,500 crore in fuel subsidies, save up to Tk 2,500 crore, said energy ministry officials.

They said the government raised fuel prices at retail level, as oil prices have remained high on the international market.

State-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation imports oil from the international market at higher prices and sell them at subsidised rates.

When the present government came to power four years ago, it had cut diesel and kerosene prices by Tk 2 a litre. And it did not raise fuel prices in 2010.

The government increased the prices of petroleum products four times in 2011, as it faced huge financial strains with the doubling of oil imports, partly due to costly quick-rental power plants.

Source:The Daily Star