The government has plans to raise power price, Nasrul Hamid Bipu has said while defending the move to increase gas prices up to 50 percent.
“The gas price for power sector has increased. So we want to adjust the price of electricity,” said the state minister for power, energy and mineral resources at a programme in Dhaka on Friday, a day after the announcement of gas price hike.
The ministry has already sent its proposal on raising power prices, he said.
“We must work to provide uninterrupted electricity to every home in Bangladesh. So we must be ready to invest in infrastructure,” the state minister said.
According to the new gas prices, the household consumers will have to shell out 50 percent more for stoves than they pay now while those using meters will have an additional 60 percent added to their bills.
For power generation, the price of gas is rising by 12 to 15 percent.
The Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has termed the gas price hike decision ‘irrational’ and said it was considering to move the High Court.
Top trade body FBCCI says it will put the exports in a new challenge while garment entrepreneurs’ BGMEA is worried about meeting the export target.
Arguing in favour of the decision, State Minister Bipu said, “In Bangladesh, 3 to 3.5 million users get gas through pipeline. But we will have to think about the tens of millions of others.”
He said the government’s job is to supply uninterrupted fuel to households throughout the country. “And we are doing just that,” he added.
Bipu also said the government is planning to scrap pipeline gas connections gradually and expand the use of liquefied petroleum gas at a reasonable price.
When the prices of gas were raised for the last time in September, 2015, by an average of 26.29 percent, power prices were also hiked by 2.93 percent.
State Minister Bipu also claimed the gas prices were not raised ‘much’, and it was ‘necessary’.
“It’s a very little hike…7.5 percent first and 7.5 percent more later…it will not be more than 15-16 percent in two phases,” he said.
According to Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Chairman Monowar Islam, gas prices are going up by 22.7 percent on an average in two phases in March and June.
The state minister said the government proposed to raise gas prices ‘much higher’. “But they (BERC) have taken the decision considering current economic viability and the rise in the people’s income,” he said.
He also said he believed the rise in gas prices would not affect the economy negatively.
About gas crisis in several areas, he said, “There is only one way out of this crisis – conversion from pipeline gas to LPG.”