Consumers should pay actual costs to get gas, electricity: PM
PM Hasina calls for expanding tax net and urges all to pay taxes
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said consumers should pay the actual production costs to get consistent gas and electricity supply as it will no longer be possible to continue huge energy subsidies amid the global economic downturn.
"How much subsidy can be given? And why should we continue the energy subsidies?" she said on Sunday while inaugurating the newly constructed "Biniyog Bhaban" of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) at Dhaka's Agargaon.
In the face of energy tariff hikes over the past couple of months prompting an outcry by the industries, the International Monetary Fund recently welcomed Bangladesh's efforts to cut subsidies for the energy sector.
In a report after approving a $4.7 billion loan programme to Bangladesh, the fund said the authorities will further explore options to gradually reduce energy subsidies to free up more fiscal spaces.
The premier on Sunday said the government is providing the much-needed subsidies to agriculture and food production in the greater interest of the nation.
Sheikh Hasina said the production cost of per kilowatt electricity is Tk12, but consumers are being charged only Tk6 now even after the recent tariff hikes.
The government raised gas and electricity prices in January and February respectively. The gas prices were increased by a maximum of 178% for industries and power plants.
The power prices were increased by 5% at the retail level and 8.06% at the wholesale level. The price hike was authorised by a new law giving the government discretionary powers to change electricity and energy prices as needed.
Sheikh Hasina said, "In England, the electricity price has been increased by 150%. We've not reached this stage [such a worse situation] yet."
Encourage people to pay taxes
At a different programme on Sunday, the PM asked the revenue board to launch awareness campaigns and motivate citizens to pay taxes.
"If you carry out campaigns there [Upazila and Union levels] in a good manner, the people will spontaneously come forward (to pay tax). They [taxpayers] are now getting services. So, people will pay tax to avail the services," reports state-owned news agency BSS quoting the PM.
While inaugurating the two-day Revenue Conference at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital, PM Hasina said the socio-economic condition of the people of the country, including grassroots people, has witnessed a radical change in the last 14 years.
"So, there are people in Upazila and even Union level who can pay tax," she said.
In this context, she asked all the capable people of the country to pay taxes as the government would spend the tax money to enhance services for them.
The PM said the government wants to expand the tax net, instead of increasing the tax rate amid the existing inflation. "We'll have to increase the number of taxpayers," she said.
She said the number of income taxpayers is still very low in the country. It is because the people face many hassles and there is a lack of awareness here.
"There should be no coercion. The people should not be put into any panicky situation. The people will have to be motivated," she added.