Power tariff hike; Public faces mountainous pressure for government’s flawed energy policy
Miftah Haidar
28 Nov,2017

Denying opposition from all the concerned stakeholders, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission increased the power price yet again. The commission has increased the prices of electricity by 5.3 per cent on an average at consumer level which will be effective from December 1.

The announcement of power price hike came when expert opinion was arguing for reducing the tariff. Even in the public hearing on power tariff cut organized by the commission held last month at the capital, energy experts and representative of political parties and civil society groups raise concerns about the undemocratic and monopolistic governance of the power sector in Bangladesh.

The recent hike is particularly concerning as the BERC increased the average retail power tariff by 2.93 per cent as well as the bulk tariff by 3.64 per cent in September 1, 2015 amid opposition. The Power Development Board’s reasoning behind the recent increase seems arbitrary as the price of fuel in global market remained consistently low in the last couple of years.

According to expert opinion, the government could have contained the cost of power generation by reducing the price of fuel used in accordance with the global market. In this context, the widespread opposition to recent power price hike is more than justified as the government is evading any logic. 

The average retail price of power has been increased by 81.91 per cent since March 2010 in nine phases. The commission, however, this time attributed the increase in retail price of electricity to the rise in the operational cost of the power distribution utilities. Experts have rightly termed the commission’s hike this time as unlawful as the reason behind the rise of operational cost is the increase in salaries and other benefits of the staffs of power distribution utilities.

The Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh clearly stated that the PDB could save almost Tk 118.98 billion in total through various technological and managerial upgradations.

According to experts, the government’s failure to adjust the cost of imported oil, priority to electricity generation by private firms, mismanagement, corruption, lack of upgrading and maintenance of power generation equipments, misuse of resources, shortage of fuel supply and government subsidy are the main reasons for the ‘loss’ of PDB. It is absolutely unacceptable that the government is burdening the public of its own flawed policy by way of increasing power price. 

The government, under the circumstances, must abandon its flawed policy and practices in the power sector and adjust the oil price for power generation to contain the soaring power price.