Minister slams textile millers for unplanned factories
The state minister for power and energy yesterday came down heavily on textile millers for unplanned industrialisation and said entrepreneurs will have to relocate their factories in a planned manner to industrial zones.
“Find industrial zones by negotiating with the government and shift your factories to those areas; you will get uninterrupted gas and power supply,” Nasrul Hamid said.
Entrepreneurs set up their factories wherever they found land -- in Gazipur, Ashulia and Narayanganj, Hamid said. “But we have to provide utility connections from the same grid that are usually meant for residential purposes, creating huge system losses.”
Citing the API Park, an industrial zone for active pharmaceutical ingredients maker, he said the companies in the area are getting uninterrupted utility supply.
“There is no alternative to an industrial zone. Don't build factories like mushrooms.”
Hamid made the comments while a delegation of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, led by its Chairman Tapan Chowdhury, met at the state minister's office with a set of demands. The demands included revising the gas tariff for captive power generation, uninterrupted power supply and new gas connections for industrial units.
Hamid refused to revise the gas tariff that was hiked recently and said the government is discouraging captive power generation. “We are moving forward to liquefied natural gas, which will be costlier than the existing gas tariff. So, you have to start preparing from now.”
He however said his ministry has no power to revise the gas tariff, as it is set by Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) through a public hearing. “You have to sit with BERC. But I will place your demands before the prime minister for consideration.”
In response to millers' arguing that the energy tariff hike would raise the cost of production, the state minister said Bangladesh's utility price is among the lowest in the world and the government is providing thousands of crores of taka as subsidy. He cited the Tk 7,000 crore in subsidy given to the power sector alone.
If the textile sector argues that it would not survive, there must be something wrong in another area, which the entrepreneurs should find, he said.
For instance, Hamid identified the high bank interest rate that is one of the highest in the world. “Talk with the bankers and raise your demand to reduce the interest rate. If the rate is reduced, your production cost will come down automatically.”
On new gas connections, Hamid said the government is continuing to provide new connections, but in a slow pace, as it prefers to give the connections to only the planned factories.
Earlier, Chowdhury of BTMA urged the state minister to implement the new gas tariff for captive power generation in phases with a 25 percent hike in each year.
The textile sector, where around Tk 8,000 crore has been invested so far, would face a major setback due to the hike in gas tariff, which has been doubled, he added.