The government has been empowered to fix or adjust gas and electricity tariffs without conducting any public hearing beforehand.
To this effect, a gazette notification was issued by President Abdul Hamid on Thursday, bringing amendment to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Ordinance 2022.
With the amendment, the government can now fix, adjust or readjust electricity and gas prices at the consumer level on its own - for the sake of adjusting its subsidy, public interest, and ensuring uninterrupted energy supply for agriculture, industries, fertiliser, trade and commerce, and domestic purposes, according to the gazette notification.
Other objectives of the amendment are to take prompt steps for enhancing electricity production, energy transmission, marketing, supply, and distribution, it added.
Earlier, the cabinet, it its weekly meeting at the PMO on Monday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, gave approval to the amendment to the BERC Ordinance.
After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam told newsmen that the BERC was required to wait for at least 90 days to review and take decision on fixing tariff rates.
The amendment aims to facilitate the government to set fuel and energy prices on an urgent basis in a situation like what prevails now.
The possibility of importing fuel and energy under the private sector arrangement was also discussed in the meeting, and the relevant authorities were given direction in this regard, he added.
The amendment has been made amid strong opposition and criticism from various quarters.
According to critics, the country's energy regulator will stand abolished, transparency and accountability of power and energy companies in both public and private sectors will be elusive as the government assumed authority to fix energy tariffs, critics say.
Millions of consumers across Bangladesh will be directly affected, while the private and publicly owned energy and power entities will reap benefit as a consequence, they said
Raising energy tariffs bypassing BERC and without holding any public hearing will reduce transparency and accountability, experts said, adding the amendment will help in "misuse of public money" in public entities and increase project costs.