Raising power, gas prices would be suicidal
Hiking the prices of electricity and gas will be suicidal because it will significatly raise production costs, making it impossible for export-oriented businesses to compete with the other countries, said the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries.
If the prices rise, the production costs will nearly double, inflation will be even higher, and forex reserves will be affected, impeding the development of the country, FBCCI President Jashim Uddin told a press conference at the capital's Federation Bhaban yesterday.
Those proposing the price hikes lack understanding and they may put the government in trouble, he said, adding that the decision should be political, not bureaucratic.
The economic impact of costlier power and gas was not properly considered before the recommendations were made, he said.
A technical committee of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) at a public hearing on Wednesday recommended increasing the bulk electricity price by 58 percent.
"This is not the right time to raise power and gas prices… This will have a serious impact on the livelihood of the people. It will be suicidal for the economy," Jashim said, adding that the Russia-Ukraine war and the Covid pandemic had already hurt the economy.
The vice chairman of Bengal Group of Industries then urged the government to shun the quick rental power plants and make use of the more efficient ones to generate electricity at lower costs.
"The industries cannot bear the brunt of the government's wrong planning."
Rather than increasing the price of electricity and gas, the government should bring radical reforms in the energy and power sectors, he said, urging steps to snap illegal connections and reduce unnecessary consumption.
Mohammad Hatem, executive president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the export-oriented businesses were still trying to turn around and the impact of raised utility prices will damage the economy.
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said a dip in export would cause depletion of the foreign currency reserves.
Mirza Nurul Ghani, president of the National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh; Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association; Anwar Ul Alam Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Chamber of Industries; and Manwar Hossain, president of Bangladesh Steel Manufacturers Association, also spoke at the event.