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Protests Erupt in Bangladesh as Government Raises Fuel Prices While Seeking IMF Loans

Samizdat – 07.08.2022

Bangladesh has approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a multibillion-dollar loan, making it the third South Asian country – after Sri Lanka and Pakistan – to have sought financial help from the multi-lateral lender in the past two months.

Sporadic protests erupted in several of Bangladesh’s cities on Saturday in response to a significant rise in oil and gas prices. After the price rise, public transport fares also rocketed up to 35 percent. Several organizations related to transportation have suspended their operations for 24 hours and declared their sales would resume on Monday.

The Bangladesh Tank-Lorry Owners’ Association and the Petrol Pump Owners’ Association staged a 24-hr strike on Sunday. They stopped collecting fuel from the Padma, Meghna, and Jamuna depots – major oil repositories for the country in the Khulna division.

“The strike started at 8am and will continue until 8am on Monday,” Md Farhad Hossain, an official of Bangladesh Tank-Lorry Owners’

The association has been demanding 7.5 percent commission on the present fuel price.

The Sheikh Hasina government on Friday raised the diesel price by 34 Taka ($0.36) to 114 Taka ($1.20) per liter, and the octane price by 46 Taka (0.49 USD) to 135 Taka ($1.42) per liter.

Protesters alleged that instead of lowering fuel prices as the rest of the world was, the government had raised costs to “appease the IMF”, which “is unacceptable and anti-people.”

“We urge the government to return fuel prices to their previous rates immediately,” said Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, a group working for the welfare of commuters, in a statement.

Bangladesh is reportedly seeking $4.5Bln in loans from the IMF as the country’s forex reserves plummeted below $40Bln.

On 3 August, the US-led lender said it would work with Dhaka to design an IMF-supported reform program that would be required for the loan.

“As part of the policy response, Bangladesh’s request for a Resilience and Sustainability Trust and an accompanying IMF-supported program will provide safeguards in the event of further deterioration of external conditions,” the Fund added.

Bangladesh reported a fall in export earnings because of dwindling consumer demand in the west. European Union registered a 3 percent fall in consumer demand this week.

Bangladesh’s appeal to the IMF comes as Sri Lanka and Pakistan have also been negotiating financial aid. The economic slowdown and inflation has also hit these south Asian economies.

August 7, 2022 - Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity |

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