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South Asians face fuel price rise

A man holds bread and an electric metre during a protest in Lahore. File photo
Many Pakistanis are angered by power cuts and a recent food price hike

Bangladesh and Pakistan have both sharply raised fuel prices again as the cost of crude oil continues to soar.

Diesel and kerosene are up by 37.5% a litre in Bangladesh, while the price of a cylinder of cooking gas is up by 66%.

In Pakistan, natural gas prices rose by up to 31% on Monday, a day after petrol and diesel prices went up by 10%.

Rising fuel costs are contributing to higher food prices around the world. Millions of the poorest people in South

Asia have been badly hit.

Over the past year Bangladeshis have already seen the price of staple foods like rice double - and the government is appealing for global action to curb surging crude oil prices.

Analysts say the unpopular price rises could curb demand - and in turn help to bring down the oil price.

Hunger in Bangladesh

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka says the latest rises are a further blow to Bangladeshis, 40% of whom live on less than $1 a day.

He says with diesel going up to 80 US cents a litre, the cost of transporting food and other goods around the country will become much more expensive.

Fuel prices were last put up in April - but the government said it had no choice but to increase them again, given the recent global oil price rises.

Otherwise, funding of health, education and government services would have been cut, the finance minister said.

Even so, he said it would still spend almost $1.5bn on subsidising fuel during the next year.

It is also committed to help feeding millions of poor Bangladeshis who can no longer afford to eat three meals a day, our correspondent says.

The government is describing it as an international crisis.

"We think rich countries, oil-producing countries and the United Nations should deal with the issue urgently," deputy energy minister M Tamim told the AFP news agency.

Inflation

For Pakistanis the rise in the price of petrol was the fifth in four months.

A litre of petrol now costs 75.69 Pakistani rupees ($1.11), compared with 53.70 in February.

Diesel is now 49.05 a litre and a kilogram of compressed natural gas, which many people in South Asia use for cooking, costs 52 rupees.

Soaring oil and food prices have pushed inflation in Pakistan to its highest level in more than 30 years.

Many poor and middle income people there are also struggling as prices soar.

Acting Petroleum Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said different prices would be charged for gas, depending on how much consumers used.

Mr Qureshi said the formula meant that nearly 91% of the total 5.4 million domestic gas consumers in Pakistan would not be affected by the price rise.




SEE ALSO
Nepal anger over fuel price rise
23 Jun 08 |  South Asia
Why the oil price keeps rising
09 Jun 08 |  Business
Pakistan's economic woes worsen
29 May 08 |  South Asia
How to solve the global food crisis
28 Apr 08 |  South Asia
Bangladesh faces food crisis
10 Apr 08 |  Business

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