Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) has demanded the government does not raise the tariff of power and gas saying that any rise of such utilities would be a suicidal one.

The leaders of the highest business body made the demand while addressing a press conference at its Motijheel office in the city on Saturday.

They said any move to raise power and gas tariff would be detrimental to the country’s trade and industries while they are trying to recover from the shock of the global pandemic Covid-19.

FBCCI president Jashim Uddin read out at written statement while the president of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) Mohammad Ali Khokon, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Shahidillah Azim and other leaders of different business organizations were present on the occasion.

The leaders said that this is not the right time to increase the power and gas tariff. “The move has been initiated by the bureaucrats to put the government in an embarrassing situation,” said the FBBCI president.

The call from the top business bodies came against the backdrop of the recent public hearings in response to the two separate proposals, one moved by state-owned Petrobangla to raise gas price at retail level by 117 percent and another by state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) to raise power tariff at bulk level by 65.57 percent.

Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission held the public hearing, but has yet not given any verdict on the proposals.

The FBCCI leaders said the decision on any hike in power and gas tariff should come from the government’s political level, not from the bureaucratic level.

FBCCI president Jashim Uddin said still the government has been purchasing electricity from the very costly and quick rental power plants while there is no utility of such costly plants.

“The rental and quick rental power plants as well as the other inefficient power plants immediately need to be shutdown,” he said adding, a good number of gas-fired power plants remained idle for gas shortage.

“But without paying attention to those gas-fired power plants, the government is planning to raise the power and gas tariffs. Industries cannot bear the brunt of the wrong decision of the government”.

He said the government should go for reforming the power and gas sector instead of enhancing the power and gas price.

“Disconnecting the illegal gas and power lines should get the highest priority while reducing the cost through a cut to the surplus power generation will be wise for the government instead of enhancing the tariff,” said the FBCCI president.

Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) president Anwar-ul-Alam Parvez said the country is going through a dollar crisis while the cost of products is going up due to the Russia-Ukraine war. In such a situation, any rise in power and gas tariff will have a major impact on the market, which ultimately will impact the consumers.

BKMEA vice president Mohammad Hatem the impact of any rise in gas and electricity tariff will be disastrous for the export sector while the sector is trying to bounce back after a long shock of Covid-19.

“The cost of production will go up and Bangladesh will lose its export market by losing the competitiveness,” he said adding; it will ultimately result in increasing inflation and create social instability.