Country's businessmen on Wednesday opposed the initiative for increasing the gas price, saying the utility price hike will shoot up the cost of production, cut industries' competitiveness and disrupt the economic revival amid the pandemic.
At the first meeting of the FBCCI's Standing Committee on Power, Energy and Utilities held at the FBCCI office, business leaders called for not hiking the gas price as proposed by the production, transmission and distribution companies.
At the meeting, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) Senior Vice-President Mostofa Azad Chowdhury Babu also emphasized expanding gas exploration activities on a large scale to meet growing demands.
"If Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (Bapex) could not do it alone, it should go for a joint venture with the private sector to speed up the digging of wells," he added.
Mostofa Azad Chowdhury also said China and India would continue to operate coal-fired power plants for another 20 years to sustain economic growth. And Bangladesh should take initiative to ensure the best use of its coal reserves.
FBCCI Director Abul Kasem Khan, also director-in-charge of the standing committee, said the country's growing dependence on imports of energy is not safe for the future. It is important to harness domestic resources to ensure long-term energy security and sustain industrialisation.
"The businessmen are being deprived of the benefits of power generation due to extreme mismanagement in the distribution system," FBCCI Director Md Naser alleges.
Journalist Mollah M Amzad Hossain, also a member of the standing committee, called for maintaining gas and electricity connections to outside industries until the economic zones are fully ready.
He also said the government should drill at least 100 more wells to explore oil and gas and the management of the distribution companies should be left to the private sector to bring order.
Humayun Rashid, chairman of the Standing Committee and MD and CEO of Energypac Power Generation Limited, said the country's energy security would be disrupted if coordination between domestic and foreign sources of power and energy was not ensured.
The members of the committee demanded a one-stop solution to increase solar power generation, installation of solar panels in uncultivated lands of chars, government initiatives for research and development activities, and undertaking power generation projects from waste and rice husks.
Standing Committee Co-Chairman Md Salauddin Yousuf, Mohammad Ali Deen, Nazmul Haque and FBCCI Secretary-General Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque were also present at the meeting.