Titas docked for transplant, gas theft, inefficiency
The fact that the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited recorded a system loss of almost 13% in 2021 drew scathing criticism from almost all participants in the public hearing on the proposed fuel price hike. company gas on Wednesday.
The staggering rate of loss of the system speaks volumes about the corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency that pervades the company and the theft of gas by its officials, said participants including the Bangladesh Consumers Association.
The account of the loss of the system of Titas, the country’s largest gas distributor, was revealed in an analysis by the technical evaluation committee of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission.
The analysis was revealed on the third day of the public hearing.
The system loss in gas companies is very low globally and is not expected to exceed 2%, the BERC chairman said during the public hearing on its opening day on Monday.
The gas distributor, responsible for distributing approximately 60% of all gas supplied, however claimed that the system loss was 2%.
The technical evaluation committee said his account was based on audit reports.
In an attempt to explain the high rate of system loss at BERC, Humayun Kabir Khan, Deputy General Manager, Titas, said: “The main reason the company lost the system is that we received less gas which the GTCL (Gas Transmission Company Limited) claimed to have provided.
GTCL is the main gas transport company in the country.
BERC President Md Abdul Jalil interrupted at this point saying, “God bless us!” Don’t say you work without using a meter to measure!
It has been more than a decade since the company decided to install meters at gas outlets after dividing its operational area in Greater Dhaka and Mymensingh into five zones. But the task is not yet finished.
“You are a thief and corrupt. You are inefficient and wasting resources. Correct yourself and the need to raise the price of gas will not exist,” said Mohiuddin Ahmed, Bangladesh organizer Sahdharon Nagorik Samaj.
Distribution companies, including Titas, were also urged to install prepaid meters in domestic consumers more than a decade ago following allegations that people were getting less gas in the pipes than they were getting. paid a fixed monthly amount.
So far, Titas has installed 3.2 lakh of prepaid meters for Tk 712.32 crore, which the commission said brought the cost per meter to over Tk 21,000, three to four times higher than the market price of these meters in other countries.
The government’s decision two years ago to allow private companies to sell prepaid meters has not been implemented by the Titas.
Participants in the public hearing said Titas was reluctant to install prepaid meters because it would fill a void through which company officials pocket millions each year.
A study, referred to the BERC, showed that domestic consumers with prepaid meters said they saw their gas consumption reduced by half or even less compared to what they had paid in the fixed amount.
The Technical Evaluation Committee also proposed to adjust the fixed domestic gas price by reducing the monthly consumption standard to 60 cubic meters and 55 cubic meters for the double and single burner, respectively, from the existing standard of 77 cubic meters and 73 cubic meters.
“I fear I will die waiting for Titas to install all these meters,” said energy expert Professor Nurul Islam.
Participants also blamed Titas for failing to stop illegal gas use even in the heart of the capital Dhaka, and unsuccessfully tried to get an estimate of illegal gas users from his officials.
“There must have been hundreds of thousands of illegal gas connections,” admitted Md Haronur Rashid Mullah, managing director of Titas, as he blamed illegal connections and unpaid bills as major contributors to a liquidity crunch that has plagued him. forced to seek a 117% increase in the price of gas. .
“Maybe 5-10% of TItas people are bad. Bad, the rest are good people,” Haron said.
According to him, Titas owed Tk 6,000 crore to consumers, more than Tk 700 crore to government users.
He reported on the disconnection of around 1 lakh of illegal connections since December 2021 and said illegal connections are often restored.
Mr. Shamsul Alam, Energy Advisor, CAB, advised to seek help from intelligence agencies such as DGFI and NSI to end the illegal gas connection.
“You ask for a price increase when consumers are happy with your service,” Shamsul Alam said.
He also questioned the proposed price hike at a time when Titas is steadily making a profit, paying dividends to government and corporation tax and sharing profits with its officials.
Titas argued that it needed to increase its distribution margin to increase its workforce and implement new projects.
The technical evaluation committee, however, found that Titas was earning more than its revenue requirement and recommended the cancellation of its existing distribution margin of 0.25 Tk per cubic metre.
The Technical Evaluation Committee also recommended cancellation of the distribution margin of Tk 0.25 per cubic meter paid to the Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company Limited due to revenue exceeding revenue requirement.
Businessmen, including representatives of the textile, ceramics and transport sectors, have also criticized gas companies for demanding higher gas prices as people struggle to cope with the fallout from the Covid.
They feared that another price hike would bring down many of their businesses.
The public hearing will end today.