Industrial units and commercial establishments in Dhaka and Chittagong area will face serious power shortages during peak hours from March this year.
"The power distributors will ensure an 8-hour uninterrupted power supply to the rural areas for smooth irrigation during the current boro season under load management system. Dhaka and Chittagong cities will be divided into seven zones for effective rationing of power supply," said Akhter Hossain, acting secretary of the power division, at a discussion.
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), organised the discussion meeting on "Ongoing Power Crisis in the Country and its Solution" Saturday. It was presided over by FBCCI president Mir Nasir Hossain.
Iqbal Hasan Mahmood, state minister for power, Alamgir Faruq Chowdhury, former commerce secretary, Tauhidul Islam, chairman of Dhaka Electric Supply Authority, Rezwan Ahmed, chairman of Power Development Board, also spoke on the occasion.
Businessmen and industrialists of the country voiced their concern over frequent power disruptions and irrational billing system.
The state minister believed the country's power sector has been hit by inefficiency and inadequate investment. Prior to the World Bank's refusal to invest in this sector in 1986, the country could not realise that this particular sector had any commercial importance.
"Our distribution system is vulnerable and there is a huge shortage of power generation against the growing consumer demand. This is leading to frequent load-shedding ranging between 850 MW and 1050 MW every day, especially in the summer season," said the minister.
The country's power plants with 33 to 43 years of old machinery has the capacity to generate 2800 MW to 4300 MW electricity per day, which is less than the current demand, the minister said.
He blamed the slow pace of reform and the weak sales management of electricity for the poor state of the power sector.
About the 24 per cent annual surcharge on electricity billing levied by PDB the minister said: "PDB buys electricity in foreign exchange borrowed from external sources and repays the loan along with interest. But it sells electricity in local currency and as a result the PDB has incurred a loss of Tk 24 billion over the last four years due to Taka-dollar exchange rate fluctuation."
The state minister has asked FBCCI leaders to form a cell comprising different trade bodies to look into the allegations of irrational electricity billing.
The FBCCI president stressed the need for private sector investment in electricity generation to tide over the nagging power shortfall.