Bangladesh hikes bus fares 20 pct: official

DHAKA, July 2, 2008 (AFP) – Impoverished Bangladesh hiked bus fares 20 percent Wednesday following a controversial rise in state-set fuel prices, an official said, as Asia continued to reel from soaring crude oil costs. The government said the new fares were introduced after some operators had unilaterally raised fares up to 50 percent following Bangladesh’s biggest hike in fuel prices in about a decade.

“We raised the bus fares by 20 percent to Taka 1.08 (1.57 cents) per kilometre. The new rates would be effective immediately,” communications secretary Mahbubur Rahman told AFP.

“The bus operators and their unions have agreed to the new rates. The fares have been increased due to the hike in fuel prices,” he said.

The government raised fuel prices earlier this week, saying it could no longer afford to sell petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas at subsidised rates fixed when oil cost 60 dollars a barrel, against over 140 dollars now.

Starting from Tuesday, the government hiked diesel and kerosene prices by 37.5 percent to 55 taka a litre (0.26 gallons) and petrol prices by 34 percent to 87 taka a litre.

Furnace oil, used in small factories, jumped by 50 percent, while a cylinder of gas used fo