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Fresh move to raise power tariff draws sharp criticism

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Special Correspondent  :
The government's fresh bid to raise electricity tariffs has evoked sharp criticism from all circles, including domestic and industrial consumers.
The Consumer rights group also voiced concern over the move saying that a fresh power tariff hike would create further pressure on the household and industrial consumers, who are already burdened by repeated hike in utility prices.  
 Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and six state-run power distribution companies have already placed their proposals to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), seeking increase in the retail power tariffs from 2020, in less than four months after the gas prices were hiked.
Taking the proposals into account, the country's energy regulator has decided to hold hearings between November 28 and December 3 at its office in Dhaka.
State Minister for Energy and Power on Thursday said that the government wants to raise electricity tariff to reduce its subsidy burden on energy sector.
Terming the move as "anti-people", Professor Shamsul Alam, Adviser of Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) told The New Nation on Friday that the government's move to hike power tariff again is unjust when the consumers are being burdened with rising utility bills and commodity prices.  "The government is repeatedly raising utility tariffs ignoring woes of the consumers as it wants to cover up the inefficiency and corruption of state-owned power distribution companies," he said.
He further said that widespread corruption and inefficiency have gripped the power sector. Pilferage of electricity and gas are going on unabated and at the same time, unauthorized connections are being reported from various corners of the country. 
"The government should give focus on this areas first before going for a fresh power tariff hike," opined Professor Shamsul Alam.
He also said that the concerned ministry should pay more attention in improving efficiency of the power distribution companies and power plants and supply side management instead of repeated hike in power tariffs. 
"A fresh electricity price is about to taken place within a very short time of gas tariff hike which will have an adverse impact on industrial sectors," an industry leader told The New Nation on Friday on condition of anonymity.
He said there was a 32 per cent gas tariff hike just a few months ago. "The hike has raised cost of production to the export-oriented industries significantly, and a further hike in electricity tariff will add extra burden to the sector causing miseries of the exporters," he added.
The industry leader commented that the move to raise power tariff again is totally 'whimsical' when the country's industrial sectors is facing stiff competition in the global arena.
He also said that a fresh hike in electricity prices would have a serious impact on the industrial sector, especially to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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