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Steel makers urge govt not to hike power tariff

They want to be suppliers of large dev projects

FE Report | October 26, 2017 00:00:00

Local steel producers urged the government on Wednesday not to raise electricity tariff for the steel re-rolling units to keep the prices of rod and other steel products within the range of general people.

They also said the price of rod might increase by Tk 1,200 per tonne, if the proposed increased power tariff comes to effect.

Besides, the leaders of different steel manufacturing associations urged the government to allow the local manufacturers to supply steel products to some large-scale development projects, implemented under the management of foreign companies.

They came up with the demands at a press conference at National Press Club in the capital.

It was jointly organised by Bangladesh Auto Re-Rolling and Steel Mills Association (BARSMA), Bangladesh Steel Mill Owners Association (BSMOA), and Bangladesh Re-Rolling Mills Association (BRMA).

Speaking at the programme, BARSMA secretary general Muhammad Shaidullah said Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) has recently arranged a public hearing. There the power distribution authorities proposed tariff hike at different rates ranging from 6.24 per cent to 14.50 per cent.

He mentioned that the steel makers spend around 15 per cent of their total expenditure in electricity bills, and said the millers and re-rollers are shocked with the recent move to hike power tariff.

They are not getting uninterrupted electricity supply and new gas connections to the factories, he said.

Mr Shaidullah also opined that increase in power price will push steel prices further, while the steel makers have been in trouble due to hike in scrap iron price in international market, increased freight charge, and congestion in port.

He further said fuel price is maintaining a downward trend in international market, so the government should lower power price too following the global practice.

Former BARSMA chairman Sheikh Masudul Alam said the country's steel manufacturing units have the capacity of producing around 8.0 million tonnes of steel products while their actual production is only 5.0 million tonnes.

Despite having the capacity of manufacturing and supplying world-class steel products, Bangladeshi companies do not get equal opportunity to supply rod or other products to the large-scale development projects, he noted.

He also said the government has allowed foreign firms to import rod for Rampal Power Plant and Karnaphuli Tunnel projects at duty-, VAT- and tax-free facility. But the local steel millers did not even get the opportunity to take part in the tenders of these projects.

However, different government projects, like - Padma Bridge, Rooppur Power Plant, Elevated Express Highway and 1,320-MW Payra Power Plant, have been using local steel products, he added.

Mr Masud also said the country's steel industry has not been able to use its full capacity due to the agreements with some countries to construct big projects.

BARSMA chairman Manwar Hossain and other top leaders of BARSMA, BSMOA and BRMA were also present at the programme.


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