State minister for power and energy Nasrul Hamid on Thursday said the government is only adjusting the power tariff, not hiking it.
‘We aren't raising the power tariff. We're just adjusting it,’ said while addressing a seminar organised by Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) on its proposal to reduce the power tariff at the Bidyut Bhaban in the city.
CAB advisor M Shamsul Alam made a presentation at the seminar where he claimed that the current price of electricity could be reduced by Tk 0.28 per unit if the government takes some rational measures.
He alleged that the power entities are showing artificial fund deficits to justify their proposals to hike the power tariff.
The seminar was organised following recent public hearings arranged by the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission on the government's proposals to raise the power tariff.
However, the regulator is yet to announce its decision on the proposals.
About the CAB's suggestions to reduce the power tariff, the junior minister said the appeal should be made directly to the BERC as they are now the ultimate authority to make any decision in this regard.
He, however, said the suggestions could be discussed in a closed-door meeting to see if they have any merit for consideration.
The function was also addressed by eminent energy expert M Tamim, CPB leader Ruhin Hossain Prince, convener of Ganasanghati Andolan Zonayed Saki, PDB Chairman Khaled Mahmood and FERB Chairman Arun Karmaker with CAB president Ghulam Rahman in the chair.
In the present situation, the government's target is to provide electricity to people at an affordable price, Nasrul Hamid said.
He also noted that efficiency should be enhanced in the power sector to reduce the production cost. ‘We need human resource development to reduce the power production cost. But it's not possible right now to reduce the cost of power production as a power plant needs a 10-year time to reach a breakeven point,’ he said, said adding that it will be possible to decease the power tariff when such breakeven time will come down to 3-4 years.
Shamsul Alam said if the government provides subsidy to agriculture and lifeline consumers as part of its economic policy instead of loan, it is possible to reduce the cost.
He identified a number of illogical reasons that lead to the power tariff hike. These include irrationality in power purchase, purchasing fuel at a higher price for public plants, overburden manpower and irrational capacity for rental power plants.
M Tamim said the government can take the advantage of the reduced fuel price in the international market to slash the power tariff.