Dhaka, Bangladesh
Raise power price by 5.0pc, scrap rebate on prepaid billing

Raise power price by 5.0pc, scrap rebate on prepaid billing

DPDC, Desco propose, stakeholders oppose

News Desk: People will have to pay higher for power usage if the latest proposals for rate hike and rebate withdrawal on prepaid billing get through-at an odd time though, as seen by critics. The government move raises alarm from stakeholders, who put up their vehement disagreements at the ongoing public hearings on hike proposals placed by different electricity-production and-distribution agencies. On Monday, two of them--Dhaka Power Distribution Company Ltd (DPDC) and Dhaka Electric Supply Company Ltd (Desco)--proposed withdrawal of the existing 1.0 percent rebate on prepaid-meter bills, and raising the retail tariffs by about 5.0 percent. The consumers having prepaid meters are now enjoying the rebate on their total bills due to their payment in advance. The two utilities placed the proposals separately during the ongoing public hearings by Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) at the TCB Auditorium in the city. As per the proposals, DPDC wants to raise its distribution cost by Tk 0.22 per kilowatt hour (each unit) to Tk 1.24 from existing Tk 1.02 while Desco wants to raise the distribution cost by Tk 0.24 per unit to Tk 1.39 from existing Tk 1.15 per unit. The hike is about 5 percent of their existing tariff. This cost will be added to the bulk power tariffs when the Berc announces the bulk tariff as both the DPDC and the Desco purchase electricity from Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) in bulk price and sell it in retail to their consumers by adding the distribution cost. The technical evaluation committee of the energy regulator, however, disagreed with the cost calculation and tariff estimation by the two utilities. While placing the proposals, the DPDC and Desco officials said they have an impact on their overall revenue income due to the current rebate system. All the right groups, political parties and trade bodies that participated in the hearing stood opposed to the proposals, saying if the power tariff is hiked at the retail level, it would "severely affect the common people as well as the businesses". They also criticised the two utilities for taking up some costly projects in the name of consumers' benefits. Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Advisor Prof Shamsul Alam said the two utilities have huge unrealised bills pending with the two city corporations of Dhaka. Responding to this observation, DPDC officials informed that they will go for disconnecting the power lines of Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation if they fail to pay the dues by December 31. Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) leader Ruhin Hossain Prince said DPDC has been forcing consumers to pay meter rent every month although it is "illegal as per fair- business ethics". Gano Samhati Andolon convener Zonayed Saki said the power tariff is higher in Bangladesh than that in some states of India. "If the power tariff is hiked, it will have multiple impacts on the already uncontrolled commodity market across the country," he said. Berc Chairman Monwar Islam presided over the hearing sessions while its other members Mizanur Rahman, Rahman Murshid and Masudul Haque Bhuiya were present. The hearing on the tariff hike proposals of Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BERB) and West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (WZPDC) will be held today (Tuesday) in two separate sessions. (Inputs taken from UNB, media reports)

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