Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said people should accept the gas price hike for the sake of the country's economic progress as the government has to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) at a higher cost.
"If you truly want economic development, it'll [gas-price hike] have to be accepted," she said.
The Prime Minister was replying to a question while briefing journalists at her official residence Ganobhaban in the afternoon about the outcomes of her just-concluded visit to China.
Bangladesh has achieved 8.1 percent GDP growth, said Sheikh Hasina adding, "It was possible as we paid enough attention to energy, and we've been able to boost power generation, too. But, we're to import gas, and the import cost of LNG is huge. Energy is most important for economic development."
The PM said the import cost of per cubic feet LNG is Tk 61.12, but it is being sold at Tk 9.80/cf by providing huge subsidy. "Even after the gas price hike, over Tk 10,000 crore has to be given as subsidy."
Hasina said there are two ways remain open -- either to refrain from increasing economic growth by reducing LNG import or accepting the price hike in the interest of economic development. "Gas prices are also adjusted in all countries in line with energy or gas import, she added.
Referring to gas prices in neighbouring India, the Prime Minister said its prices are still much less than in India. The gas prices are adjusted in India twice a year - first in April and then in October.
"It's said the gas prices were decreased [in India]. [In India} the price of household gas is Tk 30-37/cubic feet, whereas that is only Tk 12.60 in Bangladesh," she mentioned.
The gas prices for industrial purpose is only Tk 10.70/cf in Bangladesh against Tk 40-42/cf in India, the CNG price is Tk 43/cf in Bangladesh, which is Tk 44/cf in India, and the gas price for commercial purpose is Tk 23/cf against Tk 58-65/cf in India, Hasina said.
Taking a swipe at protestors, the Prime Minister said leftist and rightist parties raised the same voice over it. "They forgot what the situation was 8-9 years ago."
In 2004-2005, India had wanted to take gas from Myanmar installing pipeline through Bangladesh, but Khaleda Zia government didn't allow it.
Had she (Sheikh Hasina) been in the power at that time, she would have allowed the pipeline ensuring Bangladesh's share from the gas, Hasina said.
She said had Bangladesh taken the share and used it for economic development it would not require to import LNG now.
Hasina returned home on Saturday wrapping up her five-day official visit to China.