The only approach to the spiralling energy crisis is now a hardline one.
Shortening office hours, reintroducing work-from-home and banning decorative lighting are among the measures the government has chalked out to save energy and reduce fuel import bills to ease pressure on the economy.
The Cabinet Division on Thursday issued a notice banning use of decorative lights in community centres, malls, shops, offices and homes.
The Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources is also mulling directives to reduce the use of electricity against the backdrop of galloping fuel prices in the global market that has put the country's power generation capacity to a test.
Apart from shortening office hours, practising work-from-home one to two days in a week, the ministry also looks to enforce steps like not using air conditioners below 25 degrees in offices, reducing the use of AC in religious establishments, and wrapping up social events such as weddings by 7pm.
Unveiling the measures at a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday after a meeting on the power and energy situation across the country, the Prime Minister's Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said he believes that proper implementation would reduce electricity demand by 2,000 megawatts (MW).
On Wednesday, the maximum demand reached 13,728 MW, with the highest supply being 13,228 MW.
The measures are now awaiting approval from the Ministry of Public Administration.
Sources at the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, who attended the PMO's meeting, told The Business Standard that they want the government to implement the given recommendations after the Eid-ul-Azha vacation.
Experts have called the initiative a timely one.
Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said, "Rising prices of fuel oil and gas in the international market and devaluation of money have created a pressure. In this case, the government and private entrepreneurs should all try the cost-effective approaches. Here, the recommendations of the ministry have rationality.
"At the same time, it is also important to look into the weakness of good governance in the energy sector."
Office workers in the country have had the experience of work-from-home during the peak period of Covid-19 infection.
This time, the country wants to implement the model in the wake of power disruptions across the country following the global energy crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government is currently providing subsidies of Tk28,000 crore to the power sector and Tk25,000 crore for LNG import to meet the gas demand for keeping the power plants running.
She also said they have allotted a subsidy of Tk84,000 crore for the new financial year but the amount could soar if energy consumption is not reduced.
"If we do not reduce subsidies, then where will the government get the money from?," she said.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said if there were no unrest in the world, we could provide the required energy.
"But the energy and fuel price unrest following the western sanctions on Russia has pushed us to our limit. We are bearing huge subsidies in the power and energy sector," he said.
"We cannot be certain that the power and energy deficit is going to end here. We can see where it will lead us," he further added.
"This crisis can be overcome with collective efforts from all of us," he said.
The energy advisor said power demands until September could soar to 14,500MW during peak hours, but through the aforementioned efforts, the demands can be brought down to 12,500MW.
Meanwhile, in an audio message, the state minister for the energy ministry Nasrul Hamid said that the government, at some point, will have to "adjust" fuel prices in line with the global market, advising all to be frugal in using oil and gas.
"Fuel prices in the global market have been on the rise for the past 6-7 months. The [crude] oil we used to buy at $70-71 per barrel is now being sold at $171.
"We have been saying from the start that we will have to adjust fuel prices. We are currently providing subsidies from our own pocket. Even after that, I think we will have to go for a price adjustment at some point."
He mentioned that countries around the globe have taken various measures to tackle the rising fuel prices, highlighting India, where there is a difference of around Tk35-Tk50/litre for different types of fuels.
Speaking about the ongoing power crisis, Nasrul Hamid said, "This situation is temporary. We have plenty of power plants. We were forced to reduce production due to the gas shortage.
"We are prioritising gas supply to fertiliser plants and other industries. If all of us become economical in using gas, then I am confident we can overcome this situation."