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Not the right time to raise power prices, says FBCCI. Businesses demand ‘20-year roadmap’

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2022-05-21 15:41:00 BdST

Bangladesh’s premier association of businesses has objected to the nation's energy regulators' plans to hike power prices and is seeking guidance from the body regarding its plans to raise prices over the next 20 years.

Calling it a "roadmap”, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries, or FBCCI, says such guidance will attract foreign direct investment and help large businesses to plan for the future.

The demand came amid a recommendation made by a technical committee of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission, or BERC, to raise bulk electricity prices by 57.83 percent without fixing natural gas prices first.

The recommendation, which immediately drew ire from all quarters of the business community, was made on Wednesday during a public hearing. The agenda of the hearing was to assess the Bangladesh Power Development Board’s (BPDB) proposal of raising bulk electricity tariffs by 66 percent.

Calling the proposal unreasonable, the FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin warned at a press conference on Saturday that if the regulator eventually approves the proposal, it would only exacerbate the already skyrocketing inflation rate in the country.

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics reported a 6.22 percent general inflation rate in April, the highest point since October 2020, driven by soaring prices of food items.

Blaming the pandemic and ongoing conflict in Ukraine as the main reasons for inflation, the FBCCI president said:

"We strongly believe it is not the best time for a tariff hike. Production and operating costs have already been doubled. We recommend the regulator to monitor the situation for the next six months first, before making any move. Otherwise, domestic industries will be forced to shut down.”

As a representative of the business community, he also asked for politicians’ intervention to settle the matter.