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Renewed electricity price hike not justified

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07th-Sep-2017       
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THE country is facing another electricity price hike soon as per a media report sending shock waves to the nation. Electricity price hike at regular interval is making people's life miserable while we wonder why the government is not sensitive about it. As per sources the price hike may be around 15 percent this time at wholesale level while it may be around 10 percent at consumers level. Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC); which holds public hearing but literally work to implement the government wish, is scheduled to hold hearing on the new move on September 25 to arrive at a decision.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAAB) has ridiculed the move saying it has no rationale whatsoever except arranging more funds to pay private power producers who are selling electricity to the government at exorbitantly high rates. These are unsolicited deals taking the nation hostage to power producers that include powerful people within the government.

Only last year the government increased electricity price followed by similar price hike of at least seven times in eight years. It is not only seriously impacting people's affordability but also enormously adding to cost of doing business. Not only electricity price, the government is also hiking gas and water tariff regularly along with other service charges and the combined affects have left the country's investment climate sluggish. Enough local and foreign investment is not coming and its growth potentials remained underutilized. 

There is no clear answer why construction of big power plants in the public sector is facing slow down, which are capable to provide electricity at less that half price of private power producers. Moreover why the government is not switching to alternative option of producing cheaper electricity. Even the recent solar power deals with some private producers were inked at higher cost without competitive tenders.  The fairness of such deals comes under open questions.

We must say the government must stop using the age-old problem known as 'system loss', as an excuse to charge higher electricity price. The authorities must stop illegal electricity connection causing huge loss to the government. Party men and trade union leaders and workers are stealing big chunk of electricity and passing the loss on to consumers. It can't be a way of minting illegal fortune.

In our view a government sensitive to people owes not to be oppressive and refrain from allowing power sector to be used as virgin ground for private business. With reasonable cost of electricity and other utilities life will be easier to people and business will face less impediments to grow. We suggest the government should not raise power tariff any more.


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