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FBCCI opposes move to hike gas price

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 20 January, 2022 12:00 AM
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Apex trade body Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) has expressed concern over gas distribution companies’ move to increase gas prices, saying that it will erode competitiveness of local industries.

The natural gas distribution companies have approached Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to increase prices with price hike proposals.

FBCCI said if gas price goes up, cost of production will also go up, which will reduce the competitiveness of local industries and cause disruption to the economic recovery process from Covid fallout.

At the first meeting of the FBCCI's standing committee on Power, Energy and Utilities held at the FBCCI office on Wednesday, business leaders urged the government not to hike gas price at this moment, says a release.

State-run gas distribution companies have proposed BERC to double gas tariffs for all consumers on grounds of high-priced import of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Weighted average natural gas price has been proposed to be raised by 117.41 percent to Tk 20.35 per cubic metre from the existing rate of Tk 9.36.

For household consumers, monthly charge for single-burner stoves has been proposed to be increased Tk 2,000 from the existing Tk 925, while charge for double-burner stoves to Tk 2,100 from existing Tk 975. BERC last increased gas tariff by 32.8 percent on average from July 01, 2019, which was the biggest-ever hike so far.

Consumer rights bodies and energy experts have suggested stopping LNG import or cutting CNG supplies to CNG filling stations instead of raising the price.

Citing examples of China and India that decided to continue coal power plants for another 20 years, FBCCI senior vice-president Mostofa Azad Chowdhury said Bangladesh should also take initiative to ensure the best use of coal reserves in the country to sustain growth.

Azad emphasised on stepping up gas exploration in large scale by forming joint venture between state-run Bapex and private companies.

Abul Kasem Khan, director-in-charge of the standing committee and director of the FBCCI, said: “The country's growing dependence on imports in energy sector was not safe for the future. It is important to harness domestic resources to ensure long-term energy security and sustain industrialization. Abul Kasem Khan voted in favor of power generation by extracting coal.”

FBCCI Director Md Naser complained that the businessmen are being deprived of the benefits of power generation due to extreme mismanagement in the distribution system.

Journalist Mollah M Amzad Hossain, a member of the standing committee, suggested that the management of the distribution companies be left to the private sector to bring order there.

The members of the committee demanded a one-stop solution to increase solar power generation, installation of solar panels in uncultivated lands of chars, government initiatives for research and development activities, and undertaking power generation projects from waste and rice husks.

The meeting was chaired by Humayun Rashid, Chairman of the Standing Committee and MD and CEO of Energypac Power Generation Ltd. FBCCI secretary general Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque also attended the meeting.