Consumers protest at fresh move for power price hike
BERC committee suggests 3.30pc hike for DESCO and 3.65pc for DPDC consumersStaff Correspondent
Amid protests from the consumers, the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday completed a 3-day public hearing on the proposals for raising the retail power prices by between 9 and 12 per cent even after a 15 per cent hike in September on an interim basis.
Representatives from a number of organisations like the Consumer Association of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Bangladesh Auto Re-rolling and Steel Mills Association warned that further hike of power prices would create political unrest and hamper industrial production.
The business community observed that they were already losing competitiveness in the global market due to frequent hike in electricity price and the situation would aggravate if power price is raised again.
BERC staff committee on the day suggested that the commission should increase average retail power prices for the Dhaka Electric Supply Company by 3.30 per cent and for Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited by 3.65 per cent to enable them to operate break even.
The committee submitted two reports on the last day of a 3-day public hearing held by the commission on a DESCO proposal for raising average power prices by 11.69 per cent and a DPDC proposal for the increase by 11.31 per cent.
The energy commission chairman, Md Emdadul Huq, presided over the public hearing while the other two members, Salim Mahmud and Delwar Hossain, were present.
CAB representative Md Shamsul Alam urged the commission not to raise power prices further which, he warned, would touch off political unrest and subsequently hamper industrial production and the economy.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party and a number of left-democratic forces have been rallying against the government move to pursue the energy commission, the statutory body for energy sector, for raising power prices at the beginning of the new year.
Earlier, the BERC staff committee on Thursday suggested the commission not to raise retail power prices for consumers of Rural Electrification Board as it was not a losing concern.
On Sunday, the committee suggested that the commission should raise the average retail rate of power for Power Development Board by 4.84 per cent and for West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd by 4.5 per cent for them to operate break even.
However, REB sought for an increase of retail power price by 9 per cent, PDB by 12 per cent and WZPDCL by 9.59 per cent for 2012-13 financial year.
The commission increased average retail prices by 15 per cent on an interim basis against an increase in the bulk price by 16.92 per cent on an average, which came into effect in September.
But later, the five power distribution agencies wanted further increase in retail prices in the range of 9–12 per cent so that they would not have to count losses. Only DESCO wanted the commission to consider a profit margin when retail prices would be set.
The commission since February 2011 has increased retail prices by 43.75 per cent on an average in six phases — from Tk 4 a unit to Tk 5.75 a unit.
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