Free power, energy sector from graft, ensure transparency

Experts demand at a CPD dialogue

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Mar 11,2019 | Updated: 23:21, Mar 10,2019

 
 

Centre for Policy Dialogue chairman Rehman Sobhan speaks at a dialogue on ‘power and energy sector: immediate issues and challenges’ organised by CPD at the Khazana Gaardenia Hall in Dhaka on Sunday. State minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid, BRAC University pro vice-chancellor M Tamim, Consumers Association of Bangladesh energy adviser M Shamsul Alam, CPD distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman, executive director Fahmida Khatun and research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem were present, among others. — New Age photo

Experts and economists on Sunday demanded that the government ensure transparency, accountability and efficiency, and eliminate irregularities and corruption in the power and energy sector in the country.
At a dialogue on power and energy sector: immediate issues and challenges, they also sought competitive bidding in power generation and gas exploration process and transparency in costing and pricing of electricity and gas.
They also stressed the need for investment for intensive exploration activities in deep sea areas in the Bay of Bengal to get resources, including petroleum products.
At the programme, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid said that they wanted to float a bond named energy and power bond worth $2 billion in the international market to get investment for the sector which needed $71.5 billion investment up to 2040 for generation of 60 gigawatts of power.
Centre for Policy Dialogue organised the dialogue at the Khazana Gaardenia Hall in capital Dhaka.
‘Lack of transparency and competitive bidding in the power and energy sector enhances the cost of projects and subsequently the financial burden on the government,’ CPD chairman Rehman Sobhan said.
He said that the government should make it absolutely clear that there would be no conflict of interest and corruption in the sector.
The ministry should also ensure genuine competition in bidding process, he said.
He also sought transparency in costing and pricing of electricity and gas.
Over-costing and over-pricing of investment is a big problem in the infrastructure sector including the power sector, he added.
Energy expert and BRAC University pro vice-chancellor M Tamim advised the government to adopt ‘go local as much as possible’ policy to meet energy requirement for economic growth and freedom in the sector instead of heavy dependence on import of energy.
Exploration of gas and seismic survey at Bay of Bengal is necessary and huge investment is needed in the sector, he said.
He also emphasised the need for investment on manpower, management, technology, operation and transmission system to improve the efficiency in the sector.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh energy adviser M Shamsul Alam expressed anger over the government’s move to increase gas price violating the law.
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission is set to start public hearing on Monday on proposals for hiking gas prices, which is totally unjustifiable, unfair and violation of law, said Shamsul, also engineering faculty dean of Daffodil International University.
‘How does BERC take the move to seek extra price from consumers for 1,000 mmcfd imported LNG which is yet to reach to consumers?’ he questioned.
He said that there was lack of justification of gas price and lack of transparency in the sector and huge inconsistency in the power production capacity and the use of that capacity.
It is difficult to move forward if lawmakers are involved in electricity import or secretaries of the government become involved in operation of power companies, he said.
Dhaka University geology department professor Badrul Imam said that Bangladesh territory at Bay of Bengal was the least explored area.
‘We have done nothing to get resources, including petroleum products, of the sea while neighbouring countries have moved forward in this regard,’ he said.
CPD research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem, in a study paper, raised questions over some issues including extension of the timeframe for quick rental power plants despite significant underutilisation of grid capacity and justification of cost for the Rooppur nuclear power plant.
Bangladesh will have to repay around $20 billion to Russia against loans worth $11.38 billion for the Rooppur nuclear power plant, he said.
He emphasised rigorous attention of the government to addressing corruption and irregularities, and lack of transparency in the power and energy sector.
He also said that it was the high time to pay attention to the primary energy sector particularly domestic gas and coal.
Nasrul said that the government set the price of gas and electricity as the Bangladesh market was not smart enough to go open market management system.
The government will gradually adjust the price and will not make a sudden jump, he said.
He also said that they were implementing several projects to improve the skills and digitise the sector to improve efficiency level of the sector.
CPD distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman and executive director Fahmida Khatun spoke at the programme, among others.

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