Bangladesh to stagger industry holidays amid energy crisis
Dhaka, Aug 11 (EFE).- The government of Bangladesh on Thursday announced zone-based weekly holidays for industries in the country as a fresh power rationing measure in the backdrop of an ongoing energy and economic crisis
The department of inspection for factories and establishments issued the order under a section of the country’s labor act, requiring all shops and commercial or industrial establishments to remain entirely closed for at least one and a-half day every week.
The announcement comes days after authorities raised prices of fuel and fertilizers, reducing government subsidies on these products amid an economic downturn.
The decision to raise fuel prices by around 50 per cent at the consumer level triggered protests, with most opposition political parties denouncing the move.
The government had already begun area-based power cuts in July as the county’s plants were unable to produce electricity to meet the daily demand, mostly due to the fuel shortage.
On Jul. 18, Bangladesh shut all of its diesel-fired power plants and ordered all petrol stations to remain closed one day every week until further notice.
The authorities had been running the duel-fuel power plants with diesel, a heavy petroleum fraction used as fuel in diesel engines, amid a natural gas supply shortage. About 60 percent of the country’s power plants run on gas.
Junior minister for power, energy, and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid had told EFE at the time that they had taken the steps as the government was unable to afford the cost of energy, which had been rising steeply in the international market since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
The government had also announced a few other measures including holding government meetings mostly online to reduce fuel consumption on travel.
Some other measures taken by the authorities include ordering all shops and malls to shut by 8 pm, a ban on extra lighting for mass events at homes, community centers, shopping malls and both government and private-sector offices.
Experts have warned of a greater impact of the power crisis if it continues for too long.
“If there is a (prolonged) crisis, production in factories will get affected, exports will get reduced. And if exports are reduced, the foreign exchange reserve will be affected,” Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue, told EFE recently.
According to the latest data, Bangladesh on Wednesday witnessed a shortfall of 2021 megawatts of power as the country’s power plants produced just 10,291 megawatts against the demand for 12,397 megawatts.
The Bangladesh government in July requested the International Monetary Fund for a loan for the first time in a decade as the economy has come under sustained pressure due to rising inflation, the devaluation of taka and fuel shortages. EFE