Power price hike again?
As feared, the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) has asked for a massive hike in bulk rate of power by 14.78 percent to Tk 5.59 per kilowatt-hour unit from the present rate of Tk 4.87 which, in effect, will trickle down to retail consumers ultimately. Understandably, it has drawn the ire of consumer groups and businesses alike.
It has become customary for BPDB to cite losses due to increased use of furnace oil and diesel in power generation, both of which are bought by the utility company from Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) at prices higher than what the private sector power-generating companies pay for. So, why should consumers have to pay for these added costs? Why aren't policies changed to give relief to consumers?
Other pertinent questions have also been raised at the public hearings at Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) on the issue of power tariff hike. We do not see any concrete steps being taken to raise the efficiency levels of these state-owned plants nor have we seen any intention by the government to move away from generating electricity by using cost-intensive plants that use imported liquid fuels.
It is hard to believe that costs will reduce with such monopolistic ideas dictating energy policy in the country where making unheard-of profits by publicly-owned companies at the expense of consumers is an accepted norm! It is not clear to what extent BERC will accept arguments put forth by BPDB and other entities for price hike, but we must accept that prices will keep going up periodically until we are willing to take some tough decisions on how we generate power.