Mirza Aziz defends hike in CNG prices
Saturday, 26 April 2008

Staff Correspondent

Adviser Mirza Azizul IslamFinance adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam said Friday a hefty allocation of subsidy financed by loans would hurt the economy in the long run.

The adviser's comment came a day after the government almost doubled the prices of CNG, ending a four-year-old rate. "If the government would have kept financing subsidy at the same rate as before without increasing the prices of CNG it would have a long-term effect on the economy," Mirza Aziz said.

"For subsidy, the government either fixes tax at higher rates or take more loans," the adviser told reporters after inaugurating a day-long seminar on "Official statistics—collection and dissemination" at the auditorium of the National Economic Council.

"We are giving high subsidy in different sectors, including gas and fertiliser. The rate of subsidy in our country is higher than in many neighbouring countries.

In the current fiscal year, about Tk 6,000 crore was allocated for subsidy, but the amount was hiked to about Tk 12,000 crore." Replying to a question, the adviser said he would request the authorities so that CNG autorickshaw drivers do not charge higher than fixed fares.

The government on Thursday increased the prices of CNG from Tk 8.50 to Tk 16.75 per cubic metre, effective from Friday. During the inauguration of the seminar, Mirza Aziz said: "Statistics are not only figures. They have a greater purpose. We can get information from different fields through statistics.

Researchers and policymakers can use this information." "Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics has been assisting as a government agency. Though Bangladesh Bank and other agencies give some information, the Bureau of Statistics is the strongest," the adviser said.

Mirza Aziz urged the BBS to emphasise three issues: quick publication of statistics, scientific collection of data and objectivity. Bangladesh Statistical Association organised the seminar, chaired by its president Kazi Mofizur Rahman.

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