The government’s consumer rights agency believes traders are fleecing LPG consumers out of at least Tk 27 billion per month.
They are charging them much higher than the rates fixed by the energy regulator.
Companies associated with importing and bottling LPG are making Tk 9 billion extra profit and the rest goes to the dealers, distributors and retailers, thinks AHM Shafiquzzaman, head of the agency.
The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, or DNCRP, came up with the estimates at a meeting with the stakeholders of the sector on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com.
The traders created an artificial crisis and made a way for profiteer by exploiting the growing demand ahead of Ramadan, DNCRP Director General Shafiquzzaman said.
He dismissed their argument that the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission is not taking into account additional costs while setting LPG prices monthly.
“When the BERC asked you to tell them what the additional costs are, you sought three months’ time to submit a report. So what does it mean?”
Shafiquzzaman said the DNCRP will recommend action against those responsible for the exorbitant prices of LPG, which is used for cooking at home or eateries.
“If we go by the rules, LPG businesses will have to be shut down. But this isn’t the solution because cylinder gas is widely used now.”
A total of 28 companies, including Bashundhara LP Gas Limited, Omera LPG, Beximco LPG, Jamuna Gas, Meghna Fresh LPG Ltd, JMI Industrial Gas Limited and BM Energy (BD) Ltd, are in the business of refilling LPG cylinders.
The Bashundhara LPG representative Zakaria Jalal in the meeting alleged they had sent 10 to 12 letters to the BERC in the past few months to “correct” its formula to fix the rates by taking into consideration additional costs.
But the regulator did not listen to their calls.
BERC Secretary Khalilur Rahman Khan, however, said Bashundhara never wrote to them while Beximco and Omera sought until Mar 16 to submit documents to back their argument.
“We can’t halt fixing the rates while waiting for their report.”
Beximco LPG’s Chief Marketing Officer Mehedi Hasan demanded that the BERC raise the price by increasing the profit margin for the retailers.
Shafiquzzaman said at the time: “No matter what argument you make, you can’t justify charging Tk 300 extra per cylinder.”
The energy regulator has raised the retail prices of liquefied petroleum gas or LPG by 21.57 percent to Tk 1,498 per 12 kg cylinder for February. Still, traders sell the fuel for cooking at much higher rates, sometimes as much as Tk 1,700.
The price was already higher than the rate the BERC fixed on Feb 2 as the traders cited a supply crunch for the exorbitant prices.