The government made long promises of delivering cheap electricity after 2018 but it has been short on delivery.
People are facing a double-edged sword. After gas, electricity price is likely to hike.
In last July, a 33 percent price hike in all types of gas including cooking gas, the bulk price of electricity is going to go up soon.
The Technical Evaluation Committee of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (Berc) has recommended raising the price of per kilowatt power by up to 19.50 percent from the existing rate.
The Committee on Thursday has publicly heard the Bangladesh Power Development Board's (BPDB) proposal and recommended the new tariff after evaluation of electricity price at the wholesale levels.
At the beginning of the four-day-long hearing, the BPDB asked to increase the existing bulk price by 23.27 percent.
While presenting the proposal, General Manager (Commercial) of BPDB Kawsar Amir Ali said that they need an extra Tk1.11 against per unit electricity to keep their operation uninterrupted.
"The bulk price of per unit electricity is Tk4.77 now which needs to be increased to Tk5.88."
Justifying the price hike proposal, Kawsar said, liquid fuel price hike in the international market, devaluation of local currency and recent gas price hike will increase the BPDB's deficit.
The BPDB member (Administration) Md Zahurul Haque and member (Generation) Sayeed Ahmed were present at the hearing.
However, the Technical Evaluation Committee of the BERC said that the BPDB will not need more than Tk.93 in the 2020 calendar year.
The Committee also suggested that the BPDB supply gas to the gas-based power plants after importing liquefied natural gas. It also recommended the BPDB to ensure the maintenance of the old power plants.
In the question-answer session, Professor M Shamsul Alam, energy advisor of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh said that the BPDB has increased its cost by purchasing electricity from the rental and quick rental power plants in an unsolicited way, making electricity more expensive for the citizen.
"Half of the BPDB's money is spent on capacity charge and fuel cost which goes to the private companies' account, while some power plants remain idle. So, this price hike proposal has no logical ground; it's illegal," he said.
Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Nationalist Party said at the hearing, "As a nation, we are in a coma because we don't know when the quick rental power plants will phase out. In 2010, the government promised that after 2014 there will be no quick rentals. But we are still in the trap of quick rentals."
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association's representative Anwar Hossain Chowdhury asked the Berc not to increase electricity price.
"In the last nine months, 60 garments factories shut down. If the electricity price increases again, the situation will be more critical," Anwar said.
The last power price revision was made on November 23, 2017, when Berc raised the price of each unit by Tk 0.35, marking a 5.3 percent increase,
At the second half of the first day's hearing, the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) proposed to increase its transmission wheeling charge up to 50.77 percent from the existing rate.
Golam Kibria, the managing director of PGCB, said that the transmission company would face a financial crisis if the current wheeling charge is not changed.
"We have to deposit Tk105 crore to the government exchequer as 5 per cent tax on source imposed by the Finance Act 2019," said Kibria.
"The PGCB will face financial crisis as it has been implementing some transmission projects with its own fund to keep pace with the electricity generation sector," he added.
But the Berc Technical Evaluation Committee suggested that the state-owned single transmission company will not need wheeling charge hike to be more than 6.92 percent.
Monowar Islam, chairman of the Berc moderated the hearing while its members Rahman Murshed, Md Mizanur Rahman, Md Abdul Aziz Khan and Md Mizanur Rahman was there.