Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a think-tank, has raised questions about the necessity of power tariff enhancement against the backdrop of the concerned ministry’s reported proposal for an allocation of Tk 56,860 crore as subsidy. “We don’t understand why the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources wants to raise power tariff at the retail level when it seeks such a huge amount as subsidy,” said CPD research director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem while making a presentation on the interim report on the proposed “Integrated Power and Energy Master Plan (IEPMP) on Thursday at CPD office. Referring to the report, he said that of the total proposed amount, Tk 32,500 crore was sought for state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) for power sector, Tk 19,360 crore for Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation(BPC) for petroleum import and Tk 5,000 crore for Petrobangla for LNG import. Read more: BERC now to consult with govt before any move on retail power tariff hike proposals “We don’t agree with a proposal of reducing subsidy by raising power tariff,” he said adding, Rather, the government should go for a phase out plan to retire the costly rental and quick rental power plants to reduce the cost of power generation. The CPD research director said state-owned BPC is now making huge profit instead of incurring loss in its petroleum business after enhancement in fuel prices as the global fuel price is showing a declining trend. He claimed that the BPC is now making a profit of over Tk 30 per litre in selling the diesel. Responding to a question, he said the ministry sought such a huge amount as subsidy might be due to an inflated calculation. CPD executive director Dr Fahmida Khatun also spoke on the occasion. Appreciating the government’s initiative for adopting the Integrated Power and Energy Master Plan (IEPMP) , Dr Golam Moazzem said this has some positive and negative aspects. Read more: Raising retail power tariff: 3 more distribution companies submit proposals "But despite that we appreciate the move as it has much more focus on renewable energy promotion than before,” he said. He, however, said that the government is now shifting from its original target of generating 40 percent of electricity from renewable energy by 2041. “We see a major change in the statements as they now say the target is “up to 40 percent” by inclusion of word “Clean Energy” instead of renewable energy,” he added. He also observed the government was trying to shift from the coal-fired power’s phase out plan by introducing “Carbon Capture Technology”. The developed world is now coming away from this technology because it is not environment-friendly as such technology is used to capture carbon from the coal-fired power plants. He said the cost of solar and other renewable energy (RE) options is coming down globally and generation of 16,000 MW of electricity, which is the targeted 40 percent of total planned power generation, is very much possible. Many local and foreign investors are ready to invest in the RE sector. “The RE technologies are getting cheaper day by day. The government should go for proven technology in this regard instead of unproven ones,” he said. He also observed that the government ultimately wants to promote import of LNG (liquefied natural gas) through the proposed master plan while the RE did not get proper attention in it. “RE has not been avoided in the proposed master plan, but it was ignored,” he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday stressed the need for gradual withdrawal of subsidies, particularly from electricity and gas. “The subsidy is a serious matter. We must get out of the system,” said Planning Minister MA Mannan quoting the PM as saying at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec). Read: Project to develop 5G network, 9 others get ecnec nod The prime minister, who is also chair of the Ecnec, presided over the meeting, joining it virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban. Other ministers and officials concerned attended the virtual event from the NEC conference room. Sheikh Hasina talked about the subsidy during the discussion on an electricity project, said the planning minister while briefing the reporters after the meeting.
The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOE) will provide Tk 25000 as subsidy for the Saudi Arabia-bound Bangladeshi expatriate workers to bear quarantine cost. Workers who stayed or will stay in compulsory institutional quarantine at their own expense from 20 May 2021 to 30 June 2021 as per Saudi Arabia government guidelines would get this subsidy money, said a MoEWOE media release. READ: Bishwanath UNO to construct Expatriate Square honouring expatriates Wage Earners Welfare Board under MoEWOE has decided to provide the money upon workers’ application. This subsidy money would be sent to the bank account of the concerned worker or the nominee. The concerned employees could download the application form from MoEWOE website-www.probashi.gov.bd, Wage Earners Welfare Board website- www.wewb.gov.bd or Manpower Employment and Training Bureau website- www.bmet.gov.bd. The form could also be collected from the Expatriate Welfare Desk at three international airports of the country. The form can be submitted to the Expatriate Welfare Desk at the airports from June 7. READ: Expatriate Bangladeshis in South Korea urged to come forward to build "Sonar Bangla" The expatriate workers have to submit the form along with the documents mentioned in the form. Saudi expatriate workers who have already left for the country and have completed or are completing the quarantine at their own expense must submit the relevant application form by June 30 to the Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh or Bangladesh Consulate General in Jeddah by post, the release also said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday announced that the government will provide Tk 2,000 crore to commercial banks as subsidy so that they could waive this money as interest from around 1.38 crore persons who took loans from banks. The announcement came while the Prime Minister was publishing the results of SSC and equivalent examinations from her official residence Ganobhaban through videoconferencing. She also said that the government earlier suspended the interest of bank loans for two months and the amount of that suspended interest was Tk 16,549 crore. "The rest of the interest money will have to be paid by the loan takers in the next 12 months," she said. Sheikh Hasina said that all the shops and business entities were closed and the government is now reopening those gradually. "Many of the business had taken loans from the banks, but they could not run their business properly. We have taken various types of initiatives so that they do not overburdened by the loans," she said. She said that the government in 19 packages allotted some Tk 103,117 crore which is 3.7 percent of the GDP. "I do not know any country in the world announced such huge amount (of its GDP) as stimulus package," she said. The Prime Minister said that the Tk 2,000 crore will be distributed among the loan takers proportionately. "The loan takers will not need to repay these money anymore, we are releasing them from this part (of money)," she added. She also said that by this decision of the government, some 1.38 crore loan takers will be benefited. "Their business and trade were shut down for COVID-19, we are giving them scope to start their activities again," she said.