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Tk 2,000cr To Petrobangla From GDF

If proven action will be taken: BERC Chair

Published : Wednesday, 3 August, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 662

Gas Development Fund (GDF) is consumers' money, which they paid in addition to their bills for gas field development and gas security purposes, it shall not be used for any other purpose, Chairman of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Abdul Jalil said on Tuesday.
"We are not aware about the issue, [that Petrobangla was provided Tk 2,000 crore from the GDF fund]. I can give assurance that if it had happened than the BERC will take action as per its rule and law," BERC Chairman told a media briefing on Tuesday, BERC members were present at the conference that was designed to announce the new price of LPG gas.
Recently, the Finance Ministry order came against the backdrop of the severe fund crisis of Petrobangla following excessive price hike of gas in the international market as a fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The Finance Ministry in an order asked Petrobangla to use Tk 2,000 crore from GDF to import liquefied natural gas (LNG). As per the proposal of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, the Finance
Ministry agreed to provide the fund as a loan to the state-owned Petrobangla.
Earlier, Petrobangla used Tk12,227.44 crore from BERC's two original funds - the Energy Security fund (ESF) and the Gas Development Fund (GDF).
Facing huge pressure from the Consumers' Right's bodies, On July 2022, BERC has directed state-owned Petrobangla to return the Tk12,227.44 crore but it failed to realized the amount, BERC Chairman said.
However, the CAB and other right groups pleaded with the BERC to return the amount to the original funds and ensure its use only for gas field development and the gas sector's security purpose through a transparent way which will be monitored by consumers' representatives.
The BERC public hearing verdict did not dictate a specific date for the Petrobangla as to when it has to return the fund.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Vice President M Shamsul Alam said this is an indication that the government is in a serious crisis in dealing with the energy sector. It also shows the inadequacy of the BERC law to protect its wealth.
He mentioned that recently the Energy Division announced its decision not to import any LNG from the international spot market because of the price hike.
The government also reduced power generation from gas-fired plants forcing the power entities to resort to planned load shedding and continued importing of LNG from Oman and Qatar under long-term contracts where the price is fixed.
Now, it's not clear whether Petrobangla will use the new fund to resume import of LNG from the spot market or utilize it to import gas from long-term suppliers, Prof Alam said.
"We don't know anything about the issue," The BERC Chairman said when asked if he takes into cognizance journalists' questions/allegation over the fund, "I don't know whether I should take it or notI need to talk to my panels," the BERC chairman replied.
He said if Petrobangla does not abide by the BERC order, the regulator can punish or fine the responsible officials of Petrobangla for violating the verdict
He said if the Petrobangla fails to fulfill its legal obligation, the CAB will move the court to force the organisation to implement the order.
The Energy Security Fund (ESF) and the Gas Development Fund (GDF) were formed as per the executive order by the BERC to raise funds from the public pocket for the development of the country's gas and electricity sector but Petrobangla has been using the money to implement their projects for ages.

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