Industrial production can’t be disrupted

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Though the government policymakers say the current energy crisis temporary, the situation is very worrying and nobody could say when the crisis will be over. Speakers echoed this dismay and concern at a seminar organised by the apex business body FBCCI on Thursday.

The business leaders said trade and commerce has been facing a stiff challenge due to global energy crisis. If the crisis persists, this could bring the economy to a standstill. They apprehend the crisis created over the energy situation will remain for long. The government should immediately draw up a plan for demand and supply of energy for the next 10 to 20 years. Businesspersons of certain sectors alleged there is not uniform rule being followed in load shedding. A leader of the shop owners’ association demanded that load shedding at shops be stopped immediately.

When supply is less than demand, it is hard to avoid disorder. It cannot be denied that the power generation has increased by a big margin during the tenure of Awami League government, but the people have been paying the price of the government’s wrong decision in making the fuel sector dependent on import rather than self-reliant.

It is tough to be assured by what the prime minister’s energy and power adviser Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury said, addressing the concerns of businesspeople. He asked the people to maintain austerity. People have cut down expenditure and the government has been subsidising – this is an extreme situation. But the government has no durable plan to overcome the situation. According to the prime minister’s adviser, “Some gas might be found if explored. But I don’t think the gas production will increase significantly for this. That’s why we can’t make any big pledge about this. But we will try to explore gas with the capacity we have.”

The question is why did they not try to explore for gas until now? Time is required to get the results even if gas exploration is carried out now. The situation could have been handled better if gas had been explored for and extracted earlier. Energy expert professor Badrul Imam correctly said, “The energy crisis we have been facing was not supposed to be there. We have conducted gas exploration only 25 times in the last 22 years. It can be said that we have done almost nothing to get gas from our own sources.”

In order to benefit a handful of businessmen, the government did not pay heed to what the experts said. They sold oil at a higher price to people buying it in lower price. At the same time the government subsidised billions of taka for rental and quick rental power plants. Why could the government not come out of the vicious circle of rental and quick rental power plants? A portion of money taken as gas bills from the consumers was supposed to be spent for gas exploration and extraction. But instead of doing that, the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) spent the money in other sectors. What is the answer to this injudiciousness?

Power supply to industries will have to be uninterrupted in order to ensure production at local industries otherwise the crisis will intensify. The government does not have the ability to control such a crisis.