Power price hike: eight times in eight years
It was clear that the BERC was planning to hike power price once more by the end of the year but the rationale behind it was not clear. When some countries in South Asia actually lowered the price of electricity because of lower price of oil in the international market, in Bangladesh the opposite is the picture. This is unfortunate. Yet in the cities of this region, the cost of living is highest in Dhaka.
However, this year, the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission raised average retail prices of natural gas by 17.55 per cent, up from Tk 6.38 to Tk 7.50 per cubic metre, in two phases - on March 1 and June 1. The commission also raised the average retail prices of electricity by 5.3 per cent, up from Tk 6.49 to Tk 6.84 per unit or kilowatt-hour, at the consumers' end with effect from December 1. To cut a long story short - The consumers have been subjected to the recent eighth power price hike in eight years.
The questions involuntarily arise, how rational have been the series of hikes? Also As the price of fuel oil has fallen considerably in the international market, is it not possible for the government to reduce the price of power in line with the global trend?
The government defended the new tariff hike of power prices just by saying that such adjustment was necessary to meet revenue requirements of the power distributors. But the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said a hike in tariff was needed due to increased use of furnace oil and diesel in power generation, following the apparent reasons to buy power from the private sector, increasing energy prices, interest paid against government loans and supplying power to rural Palli Bidyut Samity at comparatively lower prices.
We often wonder why the government is lacking in initiatives and drive to raise the efficiency of power distribution companies. No steps have so far been taken to cut the system losses of such entities. No long-term steps have been taken to reduce the cost of electricity generation.
The bottom-line is as with rice, a rise in electricity price affects the price of some other commodities as well, as it correspondingly shoots up the cost of industrial production also. Therefore, the price of the present hike would, no doubt, affect the price of other items also. In the end it's always the public to become the ultimate sufferers of practically avoidable hikes in power price.