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Power price hike 'ignores people'

Protesters say costs have doubled in a year

Activists protest in Dhaka Activists protest in Dhaka
  • ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • October 2, 2012
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Social, industrial and political activists staged a rally for a second consecutive day in Dhaka yesterday to protest against a rise in power prices which take effect this month.

On Sunday police used batons and tear gas to disperse several hundred protesters in the capital when they tried to march on the Energy Ministry. The clashes left around 50 injured.

Yesterday’s rally was more peaceful but anger at the sixth power price rise during the present government’s term in office was near boiling point.

Activists say the price rise is a move to please the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the hope of securing further loans for development projects.

“This is beyond contempt because previous rises are already hurting millions of people, and the government once again has bowed to IMF directives and ignored the public interest,” said Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah of the National Committee for Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, a leftist coalition group.

“If the rise is not reviewed we will launch more drastic action such as strikes, blockades and sit-in protests,” he added.

Last month, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Syed Yusuf Hossain announced power prices would rise by 15 to 17 percent beginning in October.

The move has been widely criticized as the government is far from meeting power demands, failing to end power outages and missing its targets for extending facilities to more areas.

“Power prices have doubled in the last year. People like me are finding it difficult carry out our day-to-day business,” said Shaymol Gomes, 35, an electrician.

The hikes are forcing traders to increase their prices which means essentials are costing more.

“I’ve had to increase the price of my products, to meet the additional costs over the past year,” said Tauhidul Islam, a baker.

"In the end it is always the little people who suffer  most."

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