The country's energy sector is being corporatised, with state-owned energy companies being transformed into corporations, the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has alleged.
"The government itself is acting like a business entity. When the government appears as a business venture, conflicts of interest surface," CAB energy adviser Prof M Shamsul Alam told a dialogue on Thursday in Dhaka.
He called for ensuring the development of the sector and dedicating it to the cause of people's welfare.
The energy specialist also urged the government to remove bureaucrats from managerial posts in the energy sector and replace them with competent people.
"When additional secretaries and secretaries of the government are appointed to the energy sector, they become directors of those companies. They act like traders as their sole objective is to gain and return profits to the government," Prof Shamsul Alam commented.
"These secretaries demonstrate their skills by earning money for the government. We are now witnessing their money-making strategies," he added.
Prof Shamsul Alam said the energy policy should be adopted in the same way as the government goes for a policy on food security.
"The government must not do business here [in the energy sector]."
He said the Gas Development Fund (GDF) was formed with money from customers to explore new gas fields and extract gas from them. But that money was spent on importing liquefied natural gas.
"Spending public money like this is akin to looting," he commented.
The CAB adviser blamed the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration & Production Company Limited for the ongoing power and energy shortage.
Tanzimuddin Khan, professor of International Relations at Dhaka University, presented an article on the Energy Charter Agreement – an international agreement that establishes a multilateral framework for cross-border cooperation in the energy industry.
He said the country will be at risk if the agreement is signed as the treaty will leave people's interests unguarded. "People should be vocal so that the government cannot go for this agreement."
Representatives of various non-governmental organisations participated in the open discussion. They said they will highlight CAB's arguments on energy before the public.