The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (Amendment) Bill 2023 has been passed in the parliament paving the way for the government to adjust the prices of gas and electricity without a public hearing.
State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid on Sunday moved the Bill in the House which was unanimously passed by voice votes with Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
Placing the bill, the state minister said the proposed law will be enacted by amending the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act 2003. "Now the system loss in electricity generation is not more than 6-7 per cent declining from the earlier level of 41 percent," he added.
Terming the act as a black law, Gano Forum lawmaker of Sylhet-2 constituency Mokabbir Khan said the government has undoubtedly increased the distribution of electricity, but corruption also is taking place in the sector. He urged the government to remove the bill as the act will further raise the unit price of the power.
Jatiya Party lawmakers - Fakhrul Imam of Mymensingh-8 and Rawshan Ara Manan of reserved women seat-47, also have discussed the merit and demerit of the bill.
Earlier, President Md Abdul Hamid promulgated the ordinance on December 1 amending the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act 2003, as the Parliament was not in session at that time.
The law ministry issued a gazette on the same day announcing the amendment that allowed the government to adjust the prices of gas and electricity.
Previously, the ministry of power, energy, and mineral resources used to adjust the prices of fuel, including diesel, octane, kerosene, and petrol, without any public hearings, whereas BERC adjusted the prices of gas and electricity after public hearings.
The BERC is an autonomous body established based on the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act 2003, aiming at improving power and energy infrastructure in Bangladesh. The law has previously been amended three times.
With the amendment of the 2003 act, the ministry will not be required to hold a hearing to decide new prices for gas and electricity.
On November 28, the cabinet approved an amendment of 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.