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BPC must be transparent when it comes for slashing oil prices

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06th-Jan-2017       
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MEDIA reports on Thursday said Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has asked the government to convert its outstanding dues worth Tk 27,419 crore into subsidy although the entity is now making huge profit. Fuel oil is selling at huge lower cost at international market and the demand for adjusting it in the local market is getting louder since middle of 2014 when petroleum prices started falling and became at the lowest. Oil prices dropped to as low as $27.65 a barrel in January 2016 before rebounding recently.

But the government has been defiant arguing that BPC has huge loan and it must pay first and recoup other losses it had incurred from 2000 to 2015. In early last year BPC admitted that all its bank loans have been repaid and that it is counting profits. So when it is asking the Finance Ministry now for converting its loans to subsidy, many believe that it may be a quite misleading request to establish the fact that BPC is still indebted to the banks and any readjustment of fuel oil prices yet to be delayed.

The Finance Ministry was fixing dates time and again to lower the fuel oil cost in domestic market for the second time since last April. Finance Minister AMA Muhith last week set a fresh deadline for December first and then by the end of January for second time slash in oil prices. It appears that the BPC is yet to take any initiative to slash the oil prices when it raised the new issue with the Finance Ministry to convert its bank loans to subsidy. The fact is that when BPC is still having huge loans to banks any reduction of fuel oil prices seems to be ideally unrealistic and many fears that it may be a ploy to delay reduction of fuel oil prices again.  Moreover, BPC's claim that it requires huge fund to build several projects is different issue. People want slashing of fuel oil prices in the light of global market price and we believe it can't be ignored any more.

Finance Ministry figure shows that BPC, which was running on deficit for years turned to profiteering for the first time from fiscal 2014-15. It reported a profit of Tk 5,268 crore in 2014-15 and it crossed to Tk 7,000 crore in 2015-16. Meanwhile the government slashed oil prices for the first time in April 25 last year and announced further cut in December last year and later in January this year. There is a growing public feeling that BPC must be transparent to the nation. When fuel oil prices are at the low in global market people have the right to benefit from it. They can't be denied of it anyway. 

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