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Dhaka Sunday,  Dec 4, 2022

Electricity Use During The Day May Be Stopped, If Necessary: Tawfiq-e-Elahi

Prime Minister’s Energy Advisor Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury has said that the government is planning to supply about 80 million cubic feet of gas per day (MMCFD) from Bhola district to the national network to ease the nagging energy crisis.

“We hope we’re able to bring the gas from Bhola within 3-4 months,” he told a seminar on ‘Mitigation of the Impacts of the Energy Crisis on the Industry Sector’, organised by Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) at a Dhaka hotel on Sunday, reports UNB.

He also urged all, including businessmen, to reduce the use of electricity.

“If you suspend use of electricity during daytime, it will immensely help improve the power supply situation,” he told businessmen amid their demand to import gas as an immediate solution to the crisis.

With BCI president Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Pervez in the chair, the seminar was addressed, among others, by director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Binayak Sen, president of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Jashim Uddin, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president Md. Saiful Islam, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) president Mohammad Ali Khokon, Foreign Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) vice president Shawpna Bhowmik, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) vice president Aftab Hossain Apurbo and former FBCCI president Abul Kalam Azad.

Eminent energy expert Prof Izaj Hossain made a presentation on the issue while economist Zaidi Sattar also spoke on the occasion.

Rejecting the demand of the businessmen to import 400 MMCFD gas annually, spending USD 1.2 billion to manage the crisis, the Energy Advisor said it’s not possible as the government has to preserve foreign currency to face possible future financial crisis.

“We have to be very cautious about spending foreign currency as we don’t know when the Russia-Ukraine war will end,” he said.

About the power crisis, he said some 1000 MW of electricity from coal-based power plants will be added to the national grid by next few months and the government will be able to divert some gas from power plants to industries.

In addition, the government is planning to generate another 1000 MW power from renewable sources within the shortest possible time.

In his presentation Dr Izaj Hossain said that there are some alternative options for the government to improve the energy situation. These include, import of LNG from spot market as price is declining, and diverting gas to industries, especially in Gazipur, Savar, and Narayanganj from the CNG stations, household consumers and power stations, and shutting down fertilizer factories as the government can import it from the international market.

“These will increase gas supply, but may increase load shedding”, he added.

Dr Binayak Sen said that shutting down fertilizer factories and reducing power generation cannot be be good options. The government’s top priority is to support agriculture for food production, he said.

BCI president Anwar-ul-Alam Parvez said many industries have to suspend their productions because of the severe gas crisis and load shedding. As a result, import of raw material dropped while export is declining.

“If we don’t get adequate gas and power supply, industry will not survive”, he said.

BTMA president Mohammad Ali Khokon said the government should supply gas to the textile industries, even at a slightly higher rate.

“We can survive if we get gas at a relatively higher price. But without getting gas we cannot sustain”, he said.

AK Azad said garment factory owners have to suspend their operations during the day time and now the situation is forcing them to cut back on manpower. “But if we terminate employees, what will be the impact on the society and the economy? That is a big question,” he said.

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