Govt accused of only effecting price increasesStaff Correspondent
Experts and activists on Saturday said that the Awami League-led government only increased prices because of its expensive policy to increase power generation by quick rental plants.
The government cannot burden people with increased goods prices caused by fuel oil and power price increase the government made because of its quick rental power policy, they said at a seminar on immediate tasks to resolve power crisis. The Communist Party of Bangladesh organised the programme.
Power expert Shamsul Alam, who also teaches in Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, presented the keynote paper at the seminar.
Syed Abul Maksud said that the government’s expensive way for increasing power generation had pushed up prices of all commodities but ‘human lives.’
He criticised the remark of one of the government’s highest policy-makers that power supply to people who would be criticising the government for electricity crisis would be snapped.
Maksud also said that the government had put Bangladesh on the list of countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, the Philippines and Afghanistan where rental power was considered for a short term after they had been ravaged by war.
Former power cell director general BD Rahmatullah said that the government had staged and prolonged the whole crisis to grab public money in the name of solving power crisis in a short time.
He alleged that the government had decided to buy electricity from rental plants bypassing cheaper ways like balancing, modernisation, rehabilitation and expansion or converting the single-cycle gas-fired power plants into combined-cycle plant to increase power generation by using less gas.
Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the national committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, power and ports, said that people could in now way be burdened with increased commodity prices because of increases in fuel oil and power prices.
He said that the government was increasing power and fuel prices to reduce the huge burden of subsidy caused by its rental power policy.
Mentioning a recent verdict of Pakistan’s High Court on banning rental power plants in the country, Anu said, ‘We expect such a directive from our High Court as the rental power plants have created a huge burden on people.’
Shamsul Alam suggested that the government should not increase power prices further as the generation cost would be reduced to Tk 4.0 a unit by 2017 and the sector would be profitable by then.
He also said that the government should strengthen the Power Development Board by allowing it to install power plants and increasing the capacity and efficiency of the old plants.
Journalist Shuvo Kibria, who worked with Palli Bidyut Samitis as an engineer for 10 years, said that the country had been trapped in a long-persisting crisis for the government’s power generation policy and there were hardly any ways to come out of it soon.
He urged the government to scrap the Power and Energy Fast Supply Enhancement (Special Provision) Act 2010.
He said that the act was the source of ‘all evils’ as it exempted all from any irregularity in work order of the quick rental power projects.
With the latest hike, the average retail power prices have so far been increased by more than 30 per cent in five phases since August 2010 for the rationalisation of the increased generation cost of electricity — from Tk 2.614 a kilowatt-hour (unit) to Tk 6.01 — over the period.
Statistics available with the power board, the state-run power generation agency and the only buyer from other power companies, show that the generation cost has shot up by more than 130 per cent, from Tk 2.614 a kilowatt-hour to Tk 6.01, in three years of the Awami League-led government because of expensive fuel oil-fired rental power.
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