Bangladesh rolls out power curbs as fuel price hike slams economy

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Bangladesh rolled out energy restrictions and shut down power plants Tuesday as a spike in global fuel prices slammed the South Asian economy, officials said.

Power ministry spokesman Aslam Uddin said international fuel prices had surged since Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting Bangladesh to shut down diesel-powered plants and keep some gas-fired power factories idle.

Bangladesh has also ordered scheduled blackouts of up to two hours daily and a shutdown of shops after 8 pm, officials said.

“Electricity connections to shops and malls will be cut if they violate the order,” Uddin said.

The country’s tens of thousands of mosques have been asked to only run air-conditioners during the five daily prayers, he said.

Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the prime minister’s energy adviser, on Monday urged people to save power and said officials may start carpooling, shortening office hours and holding meetings online.

Former senior IMF official Ahsan H Mansur said power rationing was not the right solution to the economic problem, which has been worsened by the sliding value of the taka against the dollar.

“It is a balance of payment problem. It is manageable. But the government should hike energy prices instead of rationing it,” he said.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party said the power rations show that “the country is in the grip of an economic crisis”, and blamed government spending.

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