Bangladesh’s record fuel increase causes huge queues

DHAKA: Thousands of Bangladeshis besieged gas stations across the country after the government hiked prices by a staggering 52 percent, the biggest jump ever, due to higher oil prices.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has boosted global energy prices, although oil has fallen in recent weeks as fears of a recession mount.

Dhaka announced Friday (Aug. 5) that the price of petrol has risen by 51.7 percent since midnight and diesel by 42.5 percent.

Motorcyclists raced to gas stations across the country to try to fill up before the price hike took effect. Some stations halted sales and sporadic protests broke out.

Protesters said the increases will disproportionately affect the tens of millions of poor people in the country who use diesel to power transportation and agricultural irrigation pumps.

In Sylhet, retailers tried to impose higher prices immediately after the increase was announced, Police Commissioner Md Nisharul Arif told AFP.

“People gathered and protested in front of all the fuel pumps in the city of Sylhet.”

There were similar protests in other cities.

Energy Minister Nasru Hamid told reporters that the decision was driven by global markets.

“Some adjustments are needed in view of the global situation. If the situation normalizes, fuel prices will be revised accordingly,” he said.

Bangladesh has been hit by higher energy prices in the wake of the war in Ukraine, which has fueled the struggle to get fuel for power plants.

Diesel plants that account for 1,500 megawatts of generating capacity – 10 percent of the total – have been taken offline, as have some gas-fired plants.

In recent weeks there have been power outages of up to 13 hours a day.

Inflation in Bangladesh has surpassed 6 percent for nine months in a row, with annual inflation reaching 7.48 percent in July, putting pressure on poor and middle-income families to meet their daily expenses. .

Dhaka has asked the International Monetary Fund for $4.5 billion, the Daily Star reported, following a visit by representatives of the Washington-based lender.

The Bangladeshi branch has fallen about 20 percent against the dollar in the past three months, further weakening the country’s finances – with a current account deficit of $17 billion.

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