Monday, 29 May, 2023
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State-Run Fertiliser Factories

Row over increased gas bills yet to be resolved

Row over increased gas bills yet to be resolved

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The government-owned fertiliser factories are unable to pay the outstanding gas bills under the increased tariff structure, said Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun.

He made the views during a closed-door meeting with State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid, said the sources who attended the meeting on Wednesday last.

After the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, the government in June last year increased the tariff to Tk 16 per cubic meter of gas from Tk 4.45 per cubic meter.

The present outstanding bills of the fertiliser factories stand at 1181.79 crore.

Nasrul Hamid requested the Industries Minister to pay the due gas bills and make the payments under the new tariff structure, sources quoted the minister.

Responding to Nasrul Hamid, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said the fertiliser factories are unable to pay the bills under the new tariff as they “incurred huge losses because of subsidised fertiliser supply to the Ministry of Agriculture.”

“We are unable to pay the dues as well as gas bills under the new tariff structure,” the Industries Minister said.

Then, Nasrul Hamid reminded him of the Prime Minister’s directive to suspend gas connections even to public companies if they fail to realise the gas bills.

The power minister also requested the industries minister to shut down a few fertiliser factories so gas supply can be ensured for electricity generation during the month of Ramadan and boro paddy irrigation. 

About gas bill dues, the industries minister requested the power minister to send an official letter as they discussed the issue in a ministerial meeting.

The industries minister also proposed settling it at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the meeting should be attended by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Talking over the issues on gas tariff dispute between the industries and power ministries, Prime Minister’s Energy adviser Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said, “It happens in the public sector but can be resolved.”

“The Prime Minister has already instructed us to cut power or gas lines if any public or private companies have failed to pay the dues,” he said.    

The Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources is under huge pressure to pay costly electricity bills to the public and private power plants and bear the cost of the imported power.