Better Way to Do: Going forward, the government should include stakeholders in the decision-making process
It is unfortunate to see how, due to the Energy and Mineral Resources Division announcing a Tk15 per litre hike of prices for diesel and kerosene each, bus owners and transporters have collectively called a now ongoing nationwide strike, with commuters and the general public at large being the one largely suffering for these actions.
The state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) incurred a loss of Tk1,147.6 crore in diesel in the last five and a half months because of not adjusting its local price in line with the global one. However, a sudden increase in price of such a magnitude to offset the mounting losses is not the way.
Expert opinion and recommendations suggest that the price adjustment and hike should have been done differently, and the harsh response could have been avoided.
Better Way to Do: The World Bank previously recommended that price increases can be periodic and “a major communication campaign should be launched to inform the public the rationale of the price increase.”
Data gathered earlier indicate that both diesel and kerosene form a very small part of the budget of the poor, providing the government stronger ground for necessary price increases. Yet, the abrupt decision, seemingly devoid of good administrative intelligence, has put the authorities concerned on the back foot and struggling to convince the public of the correctness of its decision.
Better Way to Do: The authorities should have discussed the matter with the stakeholders, and this failure to communicate while ignoring the advice of phasing price hikes is proving to be problematic.
Going forward, the government should include stakeholders in the decision-making process and adopt smarter public relations policies, which includes taking into account the impact of its decisions on the general public at large.