PDB’s losses in 2022-23 likely to jump up by 80% after gas price hike

    Originally posted in The Daily Star on 28 January 2023

    The financial loss of the state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) is likely to cross Tk 54,000 crore in the current fiscal after the hike in the price of gas increased their input cost.

    In the 2021-22 fiscal year, its losses were Tk 29,915 crore.

    “We have to count Tk 10,000 crore extra cost to pay the gas bills following the new gas price enhancement,” a top PDB official told UNB.

    He said the new cost of gas purchase was already communicated to the Power Division which had already raised the issue at a high level meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking further instruction.

    The government on January 18 raised the retail gas prices for public, private and captive power plants and also for industries and commercial users. The higher prices will come into effect from February 1.

    As per the new government announcement, the gas prices have been increased almost threefold for public and private power plants while almost double for captive power plants and industries, and significantly hiked for commercial users.

    However, prices for household consumers, CNG-run motor vehicles and tea estates were kept unchanged.

    The Energy and Mineral Resources Division set the prices through a gazette notification issued on Wednesday applying the new amendment to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Act, which empowered the government to set all kinds of energy prices bypassing the regulator’s jurisdictions at any time.

    As per the gazette notification, the public and private power plants including the IPP and rental power plants will buy gas at Tk 14 per unit (each cubic metre) instead of the previous price of Tk 5.02. The rise is 179 percent.

    The captive power plants, small power plants and commercial power plants will pay Tk 30 per unit instead of the previous price of Tk 16 which is an 88 percent rise.

    It means after the current enhancement in gas price, the loss in the space of one fiscal will go up by over Tk 24,000 crore, said the sources at the PDB – an almost 80 percent jump.

    According to BPDB’s own latest estimates, the financial loss was supposed to cross Tk 48,000 crore in the 2022-23 fiscal from Tk 29,915 crore in the fiscal year 2021-22. But after the hike in bulk power tariff, the loss was calculated to come down by about Tk 4000 to Tk 44,000 crore.

    “But now the loss will go up by Tk 10,000 crore due to the gas price hike effective from February 1,” said the official referring to their latest calculation.

    The directorate of finance of PDB prepared this calculation on the basis of an audited report, official sources said.