The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission is set to announce a new power tariff by the end of this week
Experts have asked the government not to raise power prices and curb rampant extravagance and corruption in the sector.
They made the statement at a press conference organised by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) at the Dhaka Reports Unity in the capital.
The experts said electricity price hike will not be required if the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) can stop irregularities and unnecessary expenses.
They urged the power development board to focus on gas produced from local sources to produce electricity, which can help provide power at an affordable price for the people.
The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (Berc) – a government agency that regulates the gas, electricity and petroleum products in Bangladesh - is set to announce a new power tariff by the end of this week.
CAB President Ghulam Rahman, former chairman of the Berc, moderated the programme while Energy Advisor Professor M Shamsul Alam read out the written statement.
The power development board in its proposal to Berc says it will suffer an estimated shortfall of Tk8,786 crore in 2020 if the bulk electricity price remains unchanged, said M Shamsul Alam.
However, CAB's analysis shows currently the amount of the power board's extravagances is Tk10,549 crore. So, if the agency stops the "unjustified" expenses in generation, transmission and distribution of the power, there will be no need to adjust the price.
Ghulam Rahman said the price of electricity matters for low-income consumers and, therefore, they want to see justified tariff rates.
"Every time we have made it clear with specific data and document that the price hike is not needed if our suggestions are taken into consideration. But the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission has never accepted our suggestions," said the CAB president.
He said if their suggestions remain unaccepted this time, the Berc must explain the reason.
Among others, columnist Syed Abul Maksud, energy expert Professor Badrul Imam and architect Mubasshar Hussein spoke at the conference.
Abul Maksud urged the authorities to control the price of electricity and said the high rates will "electrocute people".
"The electricity price hike hit people like a shock. Please supply us electricity, but do not electrocute us," he said.
The renowned columnist further said the way the government has been increasing the electricity price is unjustified.
"The government cannot hike power price to make a profit like a company but it has been doing so. We are worried about the Berc's upcoming price adjustment move and its impact on citizens," he added.
Professor Badrul Imam said dependence on costly primary energy is also responsible for the electricity price increase. "But there are no initiative to supply affordable energy."
"In 2009, almost 90 percent of electricity was produced from the gas-based power plants. But now gradually we have been increasing the use of expensive fuels to produce electricity as gas-based power production has dropped below 60 percent," he added.
"It is not possible to supply electricity at an affordable rate until we enrich affordable energy," said Professor Imam.
Since 2010, the power prices have increased seven times at the bulk level and nine times at the retail level.
Last month, the energy regulator held a public hearing on the electricity price hike.
The new tariffs, which are likely to be announced by the end of this week, will take effect on January 1, 2020.