The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) is set to announce a new decision on hiking the electricity price as load shedding has decreased due to the winter.
Power Development Board (PDB) made a proposal to the regulatory commission to hike the price in January but the commission rejected that. PDB filed an appeal after one month of the decision.
BERC is likely to announce the hike in electricity price today, Monday, following that appeal.
The commission has called an online media conference at noon to inform people about its decision of increasing the power tariff. Earlier, PDB filed a review appeal to BERC on 13 November. Along with that the PDB presented its explanations regarding three objections BERC put forth against hiking the tariff. The tariff hike is likely to be announced considering the explanations.
Power division sources said the distribution companies will propose to increase the power tariff at the consumer level after implementation of the decision to hike prices at the bulk level.
Now the tariff is being increased taking the opportunity of no load shedding as the demand of electricity has decreased due to winter. This is akin to fraudulence with the consumers
PDB buys electricity from all the government and non-government power generation companies and sells to the distribution companies at the bulk level. Later, the distribution companies reach the electricity to the consumers.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, BERC member Bazlur Rahman said, “The power tariff at the bulk level is likely to be increased. The commission will announce the decision on Monday (today) following all the legal processes.”
He further said there is no need to hold a hearing on the appeal to hike the tariff.
Bazlur Rahman, however, declined to reveal the amount of hike. He only said after the tariff hike at the bulk level, the commission would consider hiking the electricity price at the consumer level if proposals are made to this end.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), however, has opposed this process of hiking the tariff.
CAB’s senior vice president M Shamsul Alam Khan told Prothom Alo, “BERC did not hike the price as PDB could not establish its arguement. Now BERC must hear the arguments of CAB and other stakeholders regarding the explanations of PDB. That’s why there is no way to increase the tariff before holding any hearing.”
Energy experts have been saying that the government is taking loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due to forex reserve crisis. Besides this, the government is also taking financial assistance from the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA). The power tariff is being raised as these organisations have advised to decrease subsidy in different sectors.
PDB proposed to raise the power tariff at the bulk level by 66 per cent on 12 January. BERC asked to send the proposal again as there was lacking in information. When the proposal was made again, a hearing was held on it on 18 May.
The technical committee BERC formed proposed to increase the tariff by 58 per cent. But CAB and business representatives opposed the decision in the hearing. They also raised questions on lack of transparency, corruption and irregularities in the power sector.
Later, BERC on 13 October announced not to raise the power price, saying that they have not conducted any evaluation of its effect on the consumers. Despite seeking information time and again, PDB did not submit those to BERC. Due to lack of transparency in information, the information PDB provided could not be analysed properly, BERC said.
The energy regulatory commission also said in its order to file appeal within 90 days of the order if any party has objections against it.
The power tariff has been increased nine times in the past 12 years. By this time, the price has been increased by 118 per cent at the bulk level while 90 per cent at the consumer level.
The price was last increased in February 2020 that was implemented in March that year. That time the price was increased by 8.39 per cent at the bulk level while 5.3 per cent at the consumer level.
CAB’s senior vice president M Shamsul Alam Khan told Prothom Alo, “The government was under huge pressure after raising the fuel oil price. That time the country was facing huge load shedding. That’s why the government backtracked from the decision to increase the power tariff then. Now the tariff is being increased taking the opportunity of no load shedding as the demand of electricity has decreased due to winter. This is akin to fraudulence with the consumers.”