Noting that the government is not focused on energy diplomacy, the Jatiya Party lawmaker said there is no initiative to make any permanent deal with the middle-eastern nations and other oil producing companies belonging to OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). There might be an underlying interest behind purchasing fuel from the spot market.

He also castigated the government over its policy on the power sector, saying that power plants are being installed without ensuring the source and supply of raw materials. A huge number of private plants are lying idle while the investors are pocketing a whopping amount of money as capacity charge.

There is a quarter of the rich and bureaucrats who stay at the centre of power structure and enjoy authority. It is true that there are global reasons behind the current crisis, but it needs to look into whether the policy here is right or wrong
Rashed Khan Menon

Mujibul noted that the government had paid Tk 866 billion as capacity charge to the private investors in the last 12 years. It even spent Tk 110 billion as capacity charge to bring electricity from India in the last nine years.

Almost all the government subsidy has been spent to pay capacity and over-heading charges of unnecessary and idle power plants under the quick rental scheme. The top 10 power companies have received Tk 446 billion from the state treasury as capacity charge in the last 12 years. Mujibul raised a question about the government interest behind such favours to the private companies.

Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has deposits worth Tk 252 billion at different banks. But the financial condition of the banks is too poor to return the deposits to the BPC. The parliamentarian sought to know who the BPC is serving by keeping the money in such banks.

Rashed Khan Menon, president of the Workers Party of Bangladesh, said there is a quarter of the rich and bureaucrats who stay at the centre of power structure and enjoy authority. It is true that there are global reasons behind the current crisis, but it needs to look into whether the policy here is right or wrong.

The energy policy is basically import-dependent and this is why the energy sector nosedived amid the global fuel crisis.

A very strong foothold

Speaking on the motion, senior leader of ruling Awami League Tofail Ahmd said the inflation has hit a 25-year high in Europe and even the rate has reached 23 per cent in some countries. Here, Bangladesh holds a strong position among its south Asian peers.

State minister for power Nasrul Hamid revisited the memories of the regimes led by BNP and Hussain Muhammad Ershad. The opposition lawmakers cited some reports carried by Prothom Alo in favour of their remarks and the state minister also presented some reports of the newspaper to fight back.

Nasrul Hamid showed the parliament some reports on power and water situation released between 2001 and 2007 when the BNP-led four party alliance was mostly in power. He labeled the opposition parliamentarians as ‘gold-fish memory’ and said they forgot everything and are playing the same broken record.

Jatiya Party leader Kazi Feroz Rashid said the ministers use prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as shields to cover up their failures. It is not true that there is no scarcity in the country, but the ministers are stubborn not to admit it

He also clarified that no power plant can be run without capacity charge all across the world. There was a need to hike the fuel oil price by Tk 60 when its price skyrocketed in the world market immediately after the commencement of the Russia-Ukraine war. But the government adjusted the price in line with the global price after a long wait.

Failure to admit the truth

BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid alleged that the government has a blatant failure in admitting the truth. They should accept the truth, find out a solution and disclose their plan to deal with the crisis.

He asked why the BPC kept money in the banks that have been on the verge of bankruptcy. Besides, issues like human rights, freedom of expression should be discussed. The government is now giving recognition to disappearances, murders and some other activities to stay in power and it will turn boomerang for them at a point.

He advocated stopping corruption and wastage to get rid of the current crisis. At the same time, the government should be held accountable and avoid authoritarian behaviour.

Ministers do not accept the reality

Anisul Islam, another Jatiya Party lawmaker, said the government must have done something wrong. It sought $4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But a bigger fund could have been collected from the global lender had the local currency been devalued systematically or the subsidy in remittance been increased.

Jatiya Party leader Kazi Feroz Rashid said the ministers use prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as shields to cover up their failures. It is not true that there is no scarcity in the country, but the ministers are stubborn not to admit it.

A section of unscrupulous traders bagged billions of taka from the market by raising the commodity prices. Many people inside the government are involved with the process, he said.

The lawmaker asked why the authorities did not take any action against the managing directors of the banks that raised the dollar exchange rate.

BNP parliamentarian Rumeen Farhana said the government’s development narrative included infrastructural development, economic growth and per capita income. But its present attitude says that the nation is in a grave crisis. The initiatives like seeking $5 billion in loans from IMF and World Bank, discouraging luxury products, and cost cut measures indicate an acute crisis.

She raised a question: what has resulted in the present crisis? Is it due to the government’s wrong policy? or an inevitable consequence of unbridled corruption?

Hasanul Haq Inu, president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, offered an apology on behalf of himself and the government for the public sufferings inflicted by the rising commodity prices.

People are suffering due to the Russia-Ukraine war. But it is unfortunate that some ministers are mocking at their sufferings, instead of extending sympathy, he said.

Another Jatiya Party lawmaker, Shamim Haider Patwary said the government has made many mistakes and now is the time to admit those. The ego of development is dangerous.