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Dhaka Saturday,  Mar 25, 2023

JS Passes Amendment To BERC Act


Parliament on Sunday passed the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (Amendment) Bill 2022 to pave the way for the government to adjust the prices of gas and electricity without a public hearing in special cases.

State minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid raised the bill in Parliament, after checking with public opinion, sending it to the select committee and fixing the amendment proposals. It was passed by voice vote.

However, Gono Forum lawmaker Mokabbir Khan walked out of parliament to protest the passage of the bill.

With the amendment of the 2003 act, the ministry will not be required to hold a public hearing through BERC to decide new prices for gas and electricity.

On November 28, the cabinet approved an amendment to the BERC Act 2003 to empower the government to set fuel tariffs on its own under special circumstances without waiting for the commission’s public hearing and decision.

The Bill states that, ‘notwithstanding any other provisions of this Act, the government may, by notification in special cases, the government can fix, refix or adjust tariffs at marketing, supply, distribution and consumer level to ensure uninterrupted supply of energy in the public interest in agriculture, industry, fertilisers, commerce and domestic work to ensure uninterrupted supply of energy and energy transmission.’

Participating in the discussion of the bill, Jatiya Party lawmaker Fakhrul Imam said that if the water tank is boiling, it can never be filled. As long as there are rentals and quick rentals, there will be losses mounting, he said.

‘What is the subsidy? Minister will explain. People are being misled in the name of subsidy. With this money the private power plants are being paid,’ he added.

Gano Forum lawmaker Mokabbir said that the government has increased the price of electricity 11 times in the last 14 years.

Calling this law a ‘black law’, he said that the cause of the crisis in the power sector is looting and corruption.

He said, ‘Due to economic slowdown, people’s sufferings have increased. The month of Ramadan is ahead. If the price of electricity is increased before this, people’s suffering will increase.’

He said this bill is against public interest.

Jatiya Party lawmaker Rowshan Ara Mannan said that there is no gas supply in Dhaka during the day.

‘There is no gas from morning for three or four hours. The situation in the village is worse. It is better to take action in this regard,’ she said.

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