Primary textile millers of the country on Monday urged the government to form a committee comprising of sector representatives and energy experts to fix fair prices for gas and electricity so that the industry could survive.
At a views exchange meeting with prime minister’s energy adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, members of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association said that the sector would be ruined if the government hiked gas price at the proposed rate as published in the media.
The BTMA organised the meeting on energy prices for the industry at the headquarters of the trade body in Dhaka.
‘We have come to know through media reports that the gas price was proposed to be hiked by 66 per cent to Tk 16 per unit from existing Tk 9.62 for captive power generation... If the gas price is increased as per the proposed rate, it will cast a negative impact on the textile sector,’ BTMA president Tapan Chowdhury said.
Expressing his concerns over the proposed hike, the BTMA president said that the gas price was increased by 222 per cent in last two years but the prices of yearns and fabrics were not increased.
Tapan said that the gas price should be rationalised considering competitiveness of the sector.
‘Not only based on public hearings, the government should also form a committee comprising of experts and sector people to set a rational price for gas,’ he said.
The BTMA members alleged widespread irregularities and corruption against Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited.
Mohd Khorshed Alam, director of BTMA, alleged that he was getting only 13 per cent of due gas pressure in his factory but Titas charged him at the regular rate.
‘We have installed Electronic Gas Volume Corrector metre as per the direction of the High Court but Titas does not charge based on the metre and I have been forced to pay additional bills worth Tk 15-20 lakh to the company,’ he said.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi assured that the gas price would not go beyond the tolerable limit and the government would take actions against corruptions and irregularities of Titas.
‘Nothing to worry about for the businesses as the gas price will remain at a tolerable level and will be hiked in phases,’ he said.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi said that the industry would get incentive based on the efficiency of captive power generation.
Regarding corruption in the distribution company, he said, ‘Titas... full crackdown for sure, either institutionally or personally,’
The advisor said that if Titas continued to harass customers, the government would transfer its responsibilities to various marketing companies which would do the job paying a charge to Titas.
The BTMA president also said that the government should specify how long the higher rate for gas would be applicable.
AK Azad, a former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that if the proposed gas price hike was implemented they would lose their competitiveness in the global market. ‘Then, not a single textile mill would survive,’ he warned.
‘Petrobangla is incurring losses worth Tk 9.30 lakh per day, which is possible because of local gas sources. But when we will import liquefied natural gas, we have to increase the gas price for paying back,’ Petrobangla chairman Abul Mansur Md Faizullah said.
He, however, added that the price would be increased slightly and would remain around Tk 14 to Tk 15 as the government was planning to bring down value added tax to 15 per cent from existing 122 per cent.
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