YET again, the incumbent Awami League-Jatiya Party government is going to hike power tariff and that too by staggering 50 per cent at one go. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Sunday, the Power Development Board, submitted a proposal to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday, a day before the finance minister placed the national budget for 2012-12, which appears unfriendly to the fixed- and low-income groups in particular, to enhance the bulk power tariff to Tk 6.0 a kilowatt-hour on an average from Tk 4.02. Notably, the energy commission raised the bulk prices of per unit power by 69.6 per cent — from Tk 2.37 to Tk 4.02 — in five phases since February 2011. Hence, if the commission consents to the proposal in question, the bulk price of power will undergo a hike for the sixth time in just less than a year and a half. This rise in bulk rate will necessarily lead the retail power rate, which also underwent a significant hike during the period, to rise further and thus put increased pressure on consumers who have already been reeling under soaring prices of essential commodities, while their genuine income has undergone erosion ever since the incumbent government assumed power in 2009. Besides, the power tariff rise occurs at a time when nagging power cuts haunt consumers, both in urban and rural areas, on a regular basis. Against this backdrop, it is not unlikely that the decision, if taken before there is any significant improvement at least in the overall power supply situation, may result in the outbreak of public protests.
It is true that the power board has to incur a considerable amount of losses by selling electricity at the current rate as it buys power at a whopping rate of Tk 16, especially from the fuel-oil run rental plants. But it cannot be denied that, in the first place, the wrong policies pursued by the incumbents to generate power in their bid to quickly resolve the acute power crisis persisting for long has caused the situation regarding power to reach such a pass. Additionally, in defiance of all opposition —particularly on the part of experts — the rental plants have been installed in a dubious manner. Allegations have it that quarters mostly tied to the ruling party are behind these projects. As such, by increasing power prices, the government is virtually going to punish the consumers for its own faults.
The government needs to realise that such an indifference to public woes could make it pay heavily. It immediately needs to give a second thought to the proposal in question and find other ways like reducing system losses — which are indeed appalling now, eliminating corruption and irregularities in the power sector to offset the losses in the sector.
comments powered by Disqus