LPG price slashed by Tk 6.33 per kg
Price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) has decreased by Tk 6.33 per kg to Tk 118.54 from the previous price of Tk 124.85 per kg for the month of March. Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) announced its latest price through a press release on Thursday. As per the new price, 12kg LPG cylinder cost has cut by Tk 76 as a retail consumer will get it at Tk 1,422 instead of previous price of Tk 1498 (including VAT). LPG prices for other sizes of cylinders – from 5.5kg to 45kg – will go down rationally, said the BERC press release. An official of the BERC said that the prices witnessed such fall due to a decline in the prices of Saudi CP (contract price). Last month, as per the Saudi CP, the LPG price was $790 per metric ton while the current month’s CP was set at $733 per MT with increase by $57 per MT, he added. Bangladeshi LPG operators normally import their products from Middle-East Market on the basis of Saudi CP. As per the BERC decision, the price of “auto gas” (LPG used for motor vehicles) also decreased to Tk 66.22 per litre (including VAT) from previous Tk 69.71 per litre, down by Tk 3.49 per litre. The new prices will be effective from 6 pm today (2 March, 2023). Read more: 12kg LPG cylinder to cost Tk 46 more The price of LPG, marketed by state-owned LP Gas Company, will remain the same as it is locally produced with a market share of less than 5 per cent. The LPG price witnessed the highest price at Tk 1,498 (per 12kg cylinder), in the local market in February this year following the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February last year. Normally, the BERC Chairman announces the LPG price at the beginning of every month through a virtual press briefing. This time, there was no press briefing as four members out of five including the BERC chairman recently retired from their jobs after expiry of their contracts with the government. New chairman has not been appointed yet, said a BERC official.
Global food prices dip for fifth month
Global food prices dropped for a fifth straight month in August, but were still eight percent higher than a year ago, according to the UN food and agriculture agency. The cost of food has been one of the biggest contributors to inflation around the world. FAO's latest global food price index, published Friday, shows that the prices of five commodities – cereals, vegetable oil, dairy, meat and sugar – were lower in August than in July. The index, which measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities, averaged 138.0 points last month, down nearly two percent from July, though 7.9 percent above the value a year before. The decline in cereal prices reflected improved production prospects in North America and Russia and the resumption of exports from Black Sea ports in Ukraine. A landmark agreement to unblock Ukraine's grain exports amid the ongoing war was signed in July by the country, Russia, Türkiye and the UN. Read: UN food price index dropped in July for fourth month Rice prices on average held steady during August, while quotations for coarse grains, such as maize, rose marginally. Vegetable oil prices fell 3.3 percent, which is slightly below the August 2021 level. The FAO attributed this to the increased availability of palm oil from Indonesia, due to lower export taxes, and the resumption of sunflower oil shipments from Ukraine. Although dairy prices saw a two percent drop, they remained 23.5 percent higher than in August 2021. The price of cheese increased for the tenth consecutive month, though milk prices eased following expectations of increased supplies from New Zealand, even amid projections of lower production in Western Europe and the US. The price of meat dropped by 1.5 percent but remained just over eight percent higher than the value last August. International quotations for poultry fell amid elevated export availability, and bovine meat prices declined due to weak domestic demand in some top exporting countries while pig meat quotations rose. Sugar prices also hit their lowest level since July 2021, largely due to high export caps in India and lower ethanol prices in Brazil. The FAO also issued its global cereal production forecast for this year, which projects a decline of nearly 40 million tonnes or 1.4 percent from the previous year. The bulk of this decline mainly concerns coarse grains, with maize yields in Europe expected to drop 16 percent below their five-year average level due to the exceptionally hot and dry weather conditions affecting the continent. However, the UN agency expects there will be a negligible drop in worldwide wheat production resulting from expected record harvests in Russia and conducive weather conditions in North America. Global rice production is also expected to decline by 2.1 percent from the all-time high reached in 2021.
NDCRP fines 3 wholesalers for manipulating egg price
The National Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection (NDCRP) on Saturday fined Tk 4.5 lakh three egg aroth (wholesaler) at Baipile in Ashulia after finding evidence of illegal profiteering. Earlier egg wholesalers used to earn Tk0.20 per egg. Now they are making a profit of Tk2.70 per egg by creating a crisis. By holding the consumers' hostage, the traders are making a hefty profit per egg. On Saturday, the NDCRP in a raid found evidence of illegal profit-making at three egg wholesalers at Baipile in Ashulia. A fine of Tk 4.5 lakh has been realized on three egg traders. The operation was conducted led by Abdul Jabbar Mondol, head of Dhaka district office of NDCRP and assistant director of the directorate Md. Hasanuzzaman. Abdul Jabbar told UNB that most of the egg traders are not preserving the cash memo of the purchase. Not giving cash memo of sale. No price list either. Eggs are being priced based on demand rather than purchase price. Read: Mobile Court fines 36 vehicles at Kakrail It can be seen from their cash memos and documents that the purchase price of each egg was Tk9.40 on August 7 and sold at Tk9.60 at a profit of 0.20 paisa only. After 10 days the picture was different. On August 17, the buying price of each egg was Tk9.10 and the selling price was Tk11.80. In this case, the profit for each egg is Tk2.70 , which is unusual. Thus, for the crime of increasing the price of eggs through manipulation, Asif's egg Aroth (traders) was fined Tk 1.0 lakh, SJ Agro egg aroth fined Tk 1.0 lakh and Faisal Enterprise was fined Tk 2.5 lakh.
Govt to slash fuel price when it goes down globally: Nasrul Hamid
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has urged all to be patient for a couple of months terming the current energy and gas crisis as temporary. “I can assure you, if and when the prices of petroleum and gas decline in the world market, we will definitely readjust the local price accordingly”, he told a seminar at Biduyt Bhaban in the city on Sunday. “We’re watching the situation closely. Please, be patient for 1-2 months and get united to face the situation. The government will come out of the load shedding by the end of the next month”, he said. He claimed the government was forced to raise the petroleum fuel prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war situation that pushed up the price in the global market. “The effect of the war is everywhere and we’re not out of it”, he said adding, Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB) and US-based gas company Chevron jointly organised the seminar titled: “Energy Security in Bangladesh: Volatile International Market” on the occasion of National Energy Security Day. With FERB president Shamim Jahangir in the chair, the event was also addressed by senior secretary of the Energy Division Mahbub Hossain, Petrobangla chairman Nazmul Ahsan, eminent energy experts Prof Badrul Imam and Prof M Shamsul Alam. Energy&Power magazine editor Mollah Amzad Hossain made a keynote presentation. FERB executive director Rishan Nasrullah conducted the function. Nasrul blasted the opposition BNP for criticising the government over the rising petroleum prices, gas crisis and cuts in electricity supply. “When they were in power the BNP did nothing but plundered the state's wealth. That’s why they became champions in corruption”, he said adding, the people had to experience load shedding for 16-17 hours a day at that time. He also said that BNP had rejected an offer from India to allow construction of a pipeline to take gas from Myanmar to India through Bangladesh. Read: Power crisis will not last long: Nasrul Hamid “If that gas line was constructed, we would have got gas from Myanmar at a cheaper rate”, he said. The state minister also blamed the energy experts for wrongly advising the government for which it could not offer foreign oil companies to explore in the offshore areas of the country. “A number of geologists and experts worked with us and they suggested that it would be better to import LNG as exploration may take longer to get gas from our offshore areas”, he added. He, however, said three foreign companies including US-based ConocoPhillips were awarded contracts to explore gas in offshore areas. “But at one stage they left the gas blocks saying that gas production would not be economically viable as they found gas elsewhere at cheaper cost”, he claimed. Senior energy secretary Mahbub Hossain said the government has taken up a plan to drill 46 wells which will add gas production by 6118 million cubic feet by 2025. Petrobangla chairman Nazmul Ahsan said the government has appointed a foreign consultant to go for international bidding to explore gas in offshore areas. “We hope we will get its report and an international tender will be floated by December this year for gas exploration in the bay”, he added. Prof Badrul Imam said the problems in the energy sector now widened in branches and sub-branches due to lack of initiative for gas exploration in recent decades. He said Myanmar discovered a huge quantity of gas in its Rakhaine state in the last 10 years. “But Bangladesh could not explore gas at the adjacent gas block-11, located within our territory despite huge potentials. The answer to this question is essential as to why we failed to do the exploration in our areas”, he said. M Shamsul Alam said Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) is the legal authority to set the petroleum fuel price like it does for natural gas and LPG. “But the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) set the petroleum prices defying the law which has no accountability”, he said, adding an independent audit should be conducted in the accounts of the organisation to check its corruption.
Tariff commission to sit soon for readjusting edible oil price: Minister
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said on Thursday that Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission will soon decide whether the proposal of Bangladesh Vegetable Oil Refiners & Vanaspati Manufacturers Association to increase edible oil price by Tk 20 a liter is justified or not. “Price of edible oil has come down in global market. But Dollar rate is high in our country and for this reason we are not getting the benefit which we were supposed to get due to fall in oil price. However, the Tariff Commission will examine the matter,” he said. Tipu said this after attending the cabinet meeting at the secretariat. Replying to a question, the Minister said that it’s not the Commerce Ministry’s job to monitor price hike of essentials by traders following the fuel price hike. Read: CAB urges govt to readjust edible oil prices “Fuel prices have been raised after adjusting with prices in the neighboring countries. If the current diesel price is taken into consideration, it’ll be found that the government is still incurring a loss of Tk 8 per liter,” said the Minister. The association proposed increasing edible oil price in line with rapid increase in dollar price. If the association’s demands are met, price of edible oil will increase from Tk 185 to Tk 205 per liter, while price of non-bottled Soybean oil will shot up to Tk 180 from Tk 166 a liter and a five liter bottle will be sold for Tk 960, up Tk 50 than the current rate.
Importers press for soybean price hike by Tk 20 per litre
The Bangladesh Vegetable Oil Refiners and Vegetable Manufacturers Association (BVORVMA), an association of owners of edible oil refining and marketing companies, has urged the government to hike prices of soybean oil by Tk 20 per litre. The BVORVMA gave this proposal to the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) on August 3. The proposal stated that the price of open (loose) soybean oil be raised to Tk 180 a litre, Tk 205 a litre of bottled soybean and Tk 960 for five-litre bottle. Mustafa Abid Khan, a former member of the Tariff Commission, told UNB that when the price of edible oil was earlier adjusted, the dollar price was taken into consideration. As much of the price in the world market fell, the price in the country did not fall accordingly. Read: Soybean oil price cut by Tk14 per litre He said, now the proposal can be reviewed. However, it should be kept in mind that people are under pressure due to the increase in the prices of commodities. The increase in fuel prices will further increase the pressure, he said. Along with the price hike proposal, the BVORVMA has also provided a breakdown of the cost.
Soybean oil price cut by Tk14 per litre
Amid much talk over the higher price of soybean oil, the government on Sunday reduced the price of bottled soybean oil by Tk14 to make it Tk 185 per litre. The new price will be effective from Monday across the country, a senior official of the commerce ministry told UNB. In consultation with the commerce ministry, the Bangladesh Vegetable Oil Refiners and Vegetable Manufacturers Association (BVORVMA), an association of owners of edible oil refining and marketing companies on Sunday made the announcement. Also read: CAB urges govt to readjust edible oil prices This brings down the bottled soybean oil price by 7.03 per cent from Tk199 to Tk 185 per litre due to the declining price in the global market. The BVORVMA also agreed to reduce the price of palm oil from Tk 6 a litre to Tk 152 a litre. Also read: Soybean oil price decreased by Tk 6 per liter The new price of five-litre bottle of soybean oil will be Tk 910, down from Tk 980, he said.
Gas prices in Europe increased sixfold in June - EU Commissioner
At the end of June, gas prices in Europe increased six times year-on-year and are still rising, Sputnik quoted European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni in a report on Thursday. "Commodity prices are being showing signs of easing lately, in the face of global weakness; however, gas is an exception. Interruptions in Russian gas supply and concerns of the further cuts pushed the European benchmark gas up again. By end June it was trading at 140 euro per megawatt\hour – more than 6 times the price one year earlier. But this price continues to rise after our cut of date, reaching 173 euro per megawatt\hour on July the 12," Gentiloni said during a briefing. Gentiloni also said that a complete halt in gas supplies from Russia would bring the European economy to "negative territory." "This scenario (halt in Russian gas supplies) would bring our economy into negative territory, which is, with this carry-over impact, quite substantial, of course," Gentiloni added. In mid-June, Russia's energy giant Gazprom significantly cut gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to technical issues at the Portovaya compressor station, where only three gas compressor units were functioning after Germany's Siemens delayed maintenance works. Moscow repeatedly warned that further delays in the maintenance could lead to a total halt of gas flows through the pipeline network to Europe. Read: EU’s new Global Gateway strategy offers new opportunities for Bangladesh-EU relations: Envoys Earlier in the day, the pipeline's operator, Nord Stream AG, announced it would stop the deliveries for regular annual maintenance, including testing of mechanical components and automation systems. Maintenance is expected to take place between July 11 and 21. Some countries including Germany and Austria have expressed fears that the supplies may decline or halt even after the work is completed. Since 2021, energy prices in Europe have been surging as part of a global trend. After the beginning of Russia's operation in Ukraine and the adoption of several packages of sanctions against Russia by the West, the situation with energy prices has considerably worsened.
How much for gas? Around the world, pain is felt at the pump
At a gas station near the Cologne, Germany, airport, Bernd Mueller watches the digits quickly climb on the pump: 22 euros ($23), 23 euros, 24 euros. The numbers showing how much gasoline he’s getting rise, too. But much more slowly. Painfully slowly. “I’m getting rid of my car this October, November,” said Mueller, 80. “I’m retired, and then there’s gas and all that. At some point, you’ve got to scale back.” Across the globe, drivers like Mueller are rethinking their habits and personal finances amid skyrocketing prices for gasoline and diesel, fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine and the global rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. Energy prices are a key driver of inflation that is rising worldwide and making the cost of living more expensive. A motorcycle taxi driver in Vietnam turns off his ride-hailing app rather than burn precious fuel during rush-hour backups. A French family scales back ambitions for an August vacation. A graphic designer in California factors the gas price into the bill for a night out. A mom in Rome, figuring the cost of driving her son to camp, mentally crosses off a pizza night. Decisions across the world’s economy are as varied as the consumers and countries themselves: Walk more. Dust off that bicycle. Take the subway, the train or the bus. Use a lighter touch on the gas pedal to save fuel. Review that road trip — is it worth it? Or perhaps even go carless. For the untold millions who don’t have access to adequate public transportation or otherwise can’t forgo their car, the solution is to grit their teeth and pay while cutting costs elsewhere. Read: Coronavirus: International bidding for gas exploration looks uncertain Nguyen Trong Tuyen, a motorcycle taxi driver working for the Grab online ride-hailing service in Hanoi, Vietnam, said he’s been simply switching off the app during rush hour. “If I get stuck in a traffic jam, the ride fee won’t cover the gasoline cost for the trip,” he said. Many drivers have been halting their services like Tuyen, making it difficult for customers to book rides. In Manila, Ronald Sibeyee used to burn 900 pesos ($16.83) worth of diesel a day to run his jeepney, a colorfully decorated vehicle popular for public transportation in the Philippines that evolved from U.S. military jeeps left behind after World War II. Now, it’s as much as 2,200 pesos ($41.40). “That should have been our income already. Now there’s nothing, or whatever is left,” he said. His income has fallen about 40% due to the fuel price hikes. Gasoline and diesel prices are a complex equation of the cost of crude oil, taxes, the purchasing power and wealth of individual countries, government subsidies where they exist, and the cut taken by middlemen such as refineries. Oil is priced in dollars, so if a country is an energy importer, the exchange rate plays a role — the recently weaker euro has helped push up gasoline prices in Europe. And there’s often geopolitical factors, such as the war in Ukraine. Buyers shunning Russian barrels and Western plans to ban the country’s oil have jolted energy markets already facing tight supplies from the rapid pandemic rebound. There’s a global oil price — around $110 a barrel — but no global pump price due to taxes and other factors. In Hong Kong and Norway, you can pay more than $10 per gallon. In Germany, it can be around $7.50 per gallon, and in France, about $8. While lower fuel taxes mean the U.S. average for a gallon of gas is somewhat cheaper at $5, it’s still the first time the price has been that high. People in poorer countries quickly feel the stress from higher energy prices, but Europeans and Americans also are being squeezed. Americans have less access to public transport, and even Europe’s transit networks don’t reach everyone, particularly those in the countryside. Read: Hamid says fuel prices to fall in line with global market Charles Dupont, manager of a clothing store in Essonne region south of Paris, simply has to use his car to commute to work. “I practice eco-driving, meaning driving slower and avoiding sudden braking,” he said. Others are doing what they can to cut back. Letizia Cecinelli, filling her car at a Rome gas station, said she was biking and trying to reduce car trips “where possible.” “But if I have a kid and I have to take him to camp? I have to do it by cutting out an extra pizza,” she said. Pump prices can be political dynamite. U.S. President Joe Biden has pushed for Saudi Arabia to pump more oil to help bring down gas prices, deciding to travel to the kingdom next month after the Saudi-led OPEC+ alliance decided to boost production. The U.S. and other countries also have released oil from their strategic reserves, which helps but isn’t decisive. Several countries have fuel price caps, including Hungary, where the discount doesn’t apply to foreign license plates. In Germany, the government cut taxes by 35 euro cents a liter on gasoline and 17 cents on diesel, but prices soon began to rise again. Germany also has introduced a discounted 9-euro monthly ticket for public transportation, which led to crowded stations and trains on a recent holiday weekend. But the program only lasts for three months and is of little use to people in the countryside if there’s no train station nearby. In fact, people are pumping just as much gas as they did before the pandemic, according to Germany’s gas station association. “People are filling up just as much as before — they’re grumbling but they’re accepting it,” group spokesman Herbert Rabl said. Is there any relief in sight? A lot depends on how the war in Ukraine affects global oil markets. Analysts say some Russian oil is almost certain to be lost to markets because the European Union, Russia’s biggest and closest customer, has vowed to end most purchases from Moscow within six months. Meanwhile, India and China are buying more Russian oil. Europe will have to get its supply from somewhere else, such as Middle Eastern exporters. But OPEC+, which includes Russia, has been failing to meet its production targets. For many, spending on things like nights out and, in Europe, the near-religious devotion to extended late summer vacations, are on the cutting table. Isabelle Bruno, a teacher in the Paris suburbs, now takes the bus to the train station instead of making the 10-minute drive. “My husband and I are really worried about the holidays because we used to drive our car really often while visiting our family in southern France,” she said. “We will now pay attention to train tickets and use our car only for short rides.” Leo Theus, a graphic designer from the San Francisco Bay Area city of Hayward, has to be “strategic” in budgeting gas as he heads to meet clients — he might not fill the tank all the way. Gas prices in California are the highest in the U.S., reaching close to $7 per gallon in some parts of the state. When it comes to going to a club or bar after work, “you’ve got to think about gas now, you got to decide, is it really worth it to go out there or not?” Theus said.
Gas price hike angers consumer rights groups
Consumer rights groups have expressed disappointments with the energy regulator's latest move to raise the average gas price by 22.78 per cent amid economic hardships. "We have been frustrated with the BERC decision when the people are struggling to survive in high inflation of commodity price", said Prof M Shamsul Alam, advisor of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB). "Rather, the energy regulator mostly considered the profits of the state-owned utility companies and their public shareholders", he told UNB. The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) on Sunday announced the gas price hike for retail consumers in the country with back effect from June 1. As per the announcement, the average gas price was raised to Tk 11.91 per cubic metre from the existing Tk 9.70 per cubic metre (CM). As per the new tariff, the household consumers using single burner will now pay Tk Tk 990 (7.03 per cent rise), up from Tk 925 a month, while the double-burner users need to pay Tk 1080 (10.77 per cent rise), up from Tk 975. The household consumers will bear the brunt of the hike as they have to pay Tk 18 per Cubic metre (42.86 per cent rise), up from existing Tk 12.60 per cubic metre (CM). The CAB earlier placed an alternative proposal to the government to keep the tariff unchanged and provide a subsidy of Tk 6489 crore to the energy and power sector. It recommended major reforms in energy and power sector aimed at stopping pilferage, malpractice, irregularities, corruption and misuse of gas and electricity. The CAB said that only a Tk 2,400 is required for energy sector while Tk 5089 crore is for power sector to keep the current price unchanged. The CAB's alternative proposal also includes enhancing local gas production and shutting down costly rental, quick rental and inefficient power plants. “Our alternative proposals were not taken into cognizance in making the decision", said the Cab advisor. Shamsul Alam said the government normally withdraws taxes and duties on any product when its price goes up on international markets. "But in case of petroleum or gas import, the government does not prefer such steps", he noted. Mohiuddin Ahmed, convener of the Bangladesh Citizen Society, said that the gas price hike is completely illogical and made in a syndicated way. During the public hearing the state-run companies failed to place any convincing evidence in support of raising gas prices, he said. Despite that the energy regulator raised the gas price instead of taking action against corruption and pilferage in the energy sector, he regretted.