Monday, 20 March, 2023

Another irritating power price hike!

We learnt from a report of the Daily Sun that the government once again increased the electricity price by 5 percent at the retail level. As per sources at the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, the average price of electricity now becomes Tk. 8.21 per kilowatt hour, up from Tk. 7.82. With the latest rise in power tariff, the government increased the electricity price three times just within the first two months of the year. This will increase the production cost of commodities and this, in turn, will definitely increase prices of essential commodities. Frequent tariff hikes will put additional pressure on general consumers. It will be tough on the part of these consumers to afford the added expense of electricity.

The phenomenon will impact little on wealthy people who can easily afford the power price hikes at close intervals but the woes of the people belonging to poor sections of society will multiply. They will have to bear the inflated cost of power and high commodity price. Questions remain as to why it was necessary to go for this raise in power tariff in a time when the cost of living witnessed an unprecedented rise due to ongoing inflation, especially, in the prices of essential commodities?   Another pertinent question arises – are there bad elements hiding inside the government itself who are always out to defame the government by always suggesting to raise the price of electricity?

To get rid of the embarrassing situations, the administration should be cautious against their suggestions. The government could well spare the public of a fresh power tariff hike with money saved by plugging the existing systemic loopholes in the power sector, including its corruption and irregularities. Critics can also mention here the tens of billions of taka already paid to the owners of the so-called rental power plants in the form of so-called capacity payment.  

According to consumer rights experts, the government has moved to overcome the loss of tariff instead of overcoming power deficit which is an unusual practice in a welfare-oriented state. Instead of resorting to frequent tariff hikes, the administration should pay more attention to sealing the loopholes in power administration and making fullest possible utilisation of power generation capacity.