Dhaka, Bangladesh
On the rise of basic utility charges: What govt could do

On the rise of basic utility charges: What govt could do

In the last few years, charges of utilities such as electricity, gas and water have been raised by the govt. Utility services are basic living requirements of human life; water, electricity and gas usage increase with time and with the advancement of human life. As we grow, our usages of utility services increase naturally; with time, we form families, members in the family increase. This way, utility services become the most essential tool of our living standard. At one time, the utility services will become scarce and if this rate of increase prevails in the charges of utility services then we may not be able to cope with the basic living expenses of life in near future. Two big concerns are to be considered regarding the usage & charges of the utility services; one is increase of usage & the stock of utility resources and another is the income versus increase of charges. General knowledge says, as time passes by, the population of the country will increase and gas, water & electricity will be exhausted more on each day. At one time, the stock of gas will be very low & production of electricity may also not meet the requirements with the increasing rate of population. Pure water for drinking and using in household activities will also see scarcity as the resources of pure water is already at a stake. As a logical consequence, the prices and charges of water, gas and electricity will go up higher, year after year. We may not be realizing how acute this problem is going to be in the near future in our lives. I can imagine a time when we might have to purchase pure water for all types of household usages, gas & electricity in units as we buy our daily households like eggs, potatoes, onions, etc. This is well understood and accepted because this seems logical; but, what about the price of the above? How will you manage the cost of buying something that is needed in bulk? Can we make it possible to eat a single time instead of 3 times to save water, electricity and gas for cooking? Can we take bath once a week or month to save water? Or can we start living like the aborigin people to get rid of the expenditures of the utility services? No, we can't. But it is also true that the other basic requirements of living will also become pricier day by day as they also need these resources for their production and the cost of business will rise as a result. Unbelievable it will seem to hear but true that at one time in future, despite all the technological & mechanical advancements, we'll have to start living our lives like the aborigins who live in the Amazon or in the hill tracts where the basic needs of life are ignored or not required. This might seem imaginary or irresponsible thinking at this moment but if deep thought is given on the issue, it won't look unrealistic, for sure! This is true at least for some or many regions of the country where people's earnings are very low. Govt. has a lot to do with this issue. It is a big-time challenge for the govt. to keep a reduced price of water, gas & electricity; to maintain a good amount of stock of the utility resources; to reduce wastage; to increase stock; to produce more; to save more and to serve people as much more days as possible by retaining as much stock as possible for the people. This is a primary responsibility of the govt. in any country of the world. But this is not the only thing they can do; rather they can do a lot more for making it possible for its people to live a normal and well equipped life. A well groomed policy can maintain, save and retain the usage & stock of pure water, gas and electricity of the country. Population as well as livelihood is increasing in the country day by day; so availability of pure water will be scarce after a certain period. The Govt. may already think of starting unit based water consumption for the people in the urban areas. Per unit cost may be nominal; a unit of 10ltr for 0.001 tk is like nothing; still people will realize that water consumption must be reduced as it is no longer free of cost. Govt. has to ensure two things in this regard; that they supply pure/clean water and that they stop illegal water supply by the dishonest officers. It is praiseworthy decision of the govt. to start prepaid meters in gas & electricity supply. This initiative, if implemented properly & honestly, will save huge amount of gas & electricity and govt. will be able to include more number of citizens within the supply chain of gas and electricity in future. Govt. must stop corruption in WASA, Petrobangla and DESCO, the three regulatory authorities of water, gas & electricity supply; for its own sake, govt. must punish those dishonest officers & staff who are wasting huge amount of resources for their own good, very unethically. The salaried officers of the govt. are earning a lot of money by managing illegal supply of water, gas and electricity to people & organizations who are not ready to pay for their usage; Both the parties are destroying the country's resources for their own good; not only that, they are also snatching away amenities from the people who deserve to get the supplies and are also ready to pay. They are also depriving the govt. from a huge amount of revenue. Govt. continually advertises targeting the general people on the necessity of saving water, gas & electricity and reducing unnecessary usages of resources. Govt. also discourages people not to take illegal supply through utility connections provided by the dishonest officers & staff. Along with this kind of advertisements, govt. should also advertise its concerns over the loss of revenue and resources caused for the illegal connections of utility services provided by the dishonest govt. officers; declare punishment for them if found guilty of this crime. Govt. should also declare lucrative incentives for people for reporting against this kind of corruption and against those officers & staff connected with this guilt. As part of encouraging the general people to report the corruptions govt. should reward people frequently every month so that other people feel inspired to take the lead as well. By this, govt. will also be able to break the conventional suspicion of people that giving information about corruptions is risky or it doesn't really work or incentive is a trap, etc. Govt. may also publish the photos of the corrupted officers & staff to discourage this type of corruption. Many govt. in the world has shown & proved that if govt. system of a country is strict in regulating laws and policy implementation, people of the country automatically abide by the laws. If govt. is not loyal and honest to its people then govt. officers, other law enforcement authorities as well as the general people & organizations also take the unethical advantage of it and corruption hinders the country's development initiatives heavily. Therefore, it's not a single party agenda rather a combined responsibility of the govt. and the people of the country to save, increase and retain the basic utility resources of the country and thus govt. also don't have to impose additional tariffs on the shoulders of its people. The Author, Principal Officer & Brand Manager, Mercantile Bank Limited

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