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Entire energy sector to open to private sector: Salman F Rahman

Originally published in The Business Standard on 17 January 2023

The government has decided to open the entire energy and power sector to the private sector, Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Advisor Salman F Rahman said on Tuesday.

He was speaking as the chief guest in an event at the Turkish embassy in Dhaka where the Bangladesh-Turkiye Business Forum (BTBF) was launched officially as a Trust.

Earlier on 1 January, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said the government would open the electricity distribution system to the private sector.

It came after a similar move to end a monopoly by the state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation on the import and supply of fuel oil a month ago.

The matter will be announced within this month, he said at a workshop held at the Bidyut Bhaban in the capital.

“The government is thinking of gradually opening the electricity distribution system. Energy is already going to the private sector as the policy portfolio has been prepared,” said Nasrul Hamid.

Amid the volatile energy price in the global market, the government has decided to open the fuel oil import, storage and distribution to the private sector to curb the state subsidy for fuel.

During Tuesday’s event, Salman F Rahman also said Bangladesh-Turkiye has a huge potential in bilateral trade especially in the construction sector, tourism and defence.

He hoped that the BTBF would play a vital role to tap into this potential.

“As a result of growing interactions between our business people, our Embassy took the initiative to encourage and support the establishment of the BTBF,” Turksih Ambassador Mustafa Osman TURAN said.

Led by Dr Rubana Huq of Mohammadi Group and Salahuddin Kasem Khan of AK Khan Group of Companies, BTBF brought together 14 Bangladesh conglomerates and four Turkish companies operating in Bangladesh last July.

Kazi Zahedul Hasan, founder and MD, Kazi Farms Group has been made the BTBF deputy chairperson while Ercument Polat, chief executive officer, United Aygaz LPG Ltd, will act as the BTBF secretary general.

“At the end of my three year tenure in Bangladesh, I am pleased to inform you that we have made significant progress in both the trade volume and Turkish investments in Bangladesh. In the years to come, I am confident that this upward trend will continue and our trade and investments will be diversified,” said Mustafa Osman TURAN, the Turkish ambassador in Dhaka, who has already completed his tenure.

According to the Turkish embassy, ICT and pharmaceutical industries appear as promising fields of cooperation as well as agro-industry and light engineering.

Bangladesh can also benefit from growing interest of the Turkish contracting companies to participate in infrastructure and transport projects.