No power price hike for a year
PM says distribution agencies to be given subsidyManjurul Ahsan
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Wednesday requested the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission not to increase power prices for a year, a commission official told New Age.
‘The government will instead give subsidy to power distribution companies for the period,’ Hasina is reported to have said at a meeting with the commission in the evening.
The official said that the Prime Minister’s Office would ask the finance ministry to take necessary steps in this regard.
The prime minister’s energy adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the state minister for power and energy, Md Enamul Huq, the commission chairman, Md Emdadul Huq, commission member Salim Mahmud and Md Delwar Hossain and the power division secretary, Md Monwar Islam, attended.
The commission on September 20 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, effective from September 2012.
With the latest round, the commission has so far increased retail prices by 43.75 per cent on an average since February 2011 in six phases — from Tk 4 a unit to Tk 5.75 a unit.
Political analysts gave a warning that a further increase in power prices would affect the general election scheduled for early 2014.
The commission estimated that power distribution agencies would either need about Tk 800 crore in subsidy or they should be allowed to increase prices to break even in electricity marketing.
But the amount of subsidy would be increased as the commission’s estimate was conservative, another commission official said.
The prime minister, who is also the minister for power and energy, has made the decision as the commission at the meeting placed the options — price increase or subsidy. If the government gives the subsidy, consumers will not need to pay additional bill after the September 2012 increase.
The commission chairman told New Age that the commission would complete the process by the end of this week.
According to findings of the commission’s staff committee, Dhaka Power Distribution Company will need Tk 161.86 crore in subsidy or to increase average power prices by 3.65 per cent, Dhaka Electric Supply Company will need Tk 80.46 crore in subsidy or to increase prices by 3.30 per cent, West Zone Power Distribution Company will need Tk 51.73 crore in subsidy or to increase prices by 4.15 per cent and the Power Development Board will need Tk 254.72 crore in subsidy or to increase prices by 4.84 per cent for a break-even.
A commission official, however, said that the Rural Electrification Board would need about Tk 260 crore in subsidy or an increase in power prices by 3.50 per cent.
In December 2012, the commission held public hearings on proposals of power distribution agencies for price increase by up to 12 per cent on an average even after the September 2012 increase saying that they would, otherwise, incur losses.
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