Friday, November 24, 2017

State Minister Hamid challenges CPD researcher on power tariff

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-08-19 23:31:53 BdST


A Centre for Policy Dialogue researcher has faced challenges from State Minister Nasrul Hamid in a discussion on prices of power and energy.

CPD Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem claimed at the discussion on Saturday that the rental and quick rental power plants got extensions, but the price of power they sell was not cut.

The state minister for power, energy and mineral resources objected to his statement saying "Of course prices were cut. It was halved in some cases."

State Minister Nasrul then asked Moazzem for reference to back his claim.

The researcher of the private organisation replied that they have the reference and would send it to the state minister later.

When Nasrul again asked for the reference, Moazzem said, "In the way you are asking, it seems that we don't have it."

As the state minister was insistent on his demand, Moazzem mentioned power plants at Ashuganj and Siddhirganj.

"There are many plants there. Please tell me specifically in which the prices were not cut. I am giving you the whole day to inform me," Nasrul told Moazzem.

Then Moazzem referred to a 2014 study which, he claimed, had information on no price cut at power plants.

Hearing about the three-year old study, Nasrul told CPD's Moazzem: "You shouldn't speak blatantly in front of the media (with such old data)." 

FIRB Chairman Arun Karmakar, who was moderating the programme, then intervened and put the debate to an end.

Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh organised the discussion titled 'Energy Tariff and National Economy' at Bidyut Bhaban. 

When Moazzem resumed delivering his speech, he evaded the rental power plant debate in rest of his speech.

The rental and quick rental power plants started to get approval during the military controlled caretaker government of 2007-2008.

The Awami League continued to approve such plants when it returned to power in 2009.

Now Bangladesh has around 30 such power plants, most of which are run by fuel oil.

Their initial contracts of three to five years were extended by up to five years.

The government had to subsidise billions of taka to buy power from these plants in past four years.

Though Finance Minister AMA Muhith sees no reason to keep these plants after 2019, the government has recently approved 10 fuel oil-based power plants with a combined capacity to generate 1800MW electricity.

Power Development Board Chairman Khaled Mahmud and Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain, among others, were present at the programme.

Former power and energy adviser to a caretaker government, M Tamim, presented the keynote paper at the discussion.

He said prices of energy are lower in Bangladesh than those in the international market and the prices should be re-adjusted.