World / Bangladesh power crisis government to reduce working hours for schools and banks

Vikrant Shekhawat : Aug 23, 2022, 10:20 PM
In Bangladesh, the weekly school holiday has been extended by one more day to two days to reduce electricity consumption, while the working hours of government offices and banks have been cut by one hour. Bangladesh has taken these steps amid rising fuel prices due to the impact of the Ukraine war.

The reduction in working hours will be effective from Wednesday. Cabinet Secretary Khandkar Anwarul Islam said on Monday that most schools in Bangladesh, which remain closed on Fridays, will now remain closed on Saturdays as well.

He said government offices and banks would reduce their daily working hours to seven hours from the earlier eight hours, but private offices would be allowed to set their own schedule.

Supply disruptions caused by the Ukraine war have pushed up fuel and food prices around the world. Bangladesh has been taking measures in recent weeks to ease pressure on its falling forex reserves. Fuel prices were increased by more than 50 per cent last month.

The government says it is exploring options to get cheaper fuel from Russia under a special arrangement. The decision drew criticism, but the government said it was necessary to reduce the deficit amid rising international fuel prices.

There have been minor protests against higher prices in recent weeks, but the government said domestic prices would be adjusted once international prices eased. The country has been facing continuous power cuts after the government suspended operations of all diesel-based power plants, reducing daily power generation by 1,000 MW.

But officials have promised to continue supplying power to industrial sectors to support the country's $416 billion economy, which has grown rapidly over the past decade.

Rahul Anand, Division Head in the Asia and Pacific Division of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said in a recent advisory that Bangladesh is not in a state of crisis and its external position is very different from that of many countries in the region.

Dhaka-based 'The Business Standard Daily' quoted Rahul as saying that the risk of debt crisis in Bangladesh is low and it is very different from Sri Lanka. Bangladesh's foreign exchange reserves have come down to around $40 billion.