The Cabinet has again approved a proposal for the extension of the Quick Enhancement of Electricity and Energy Supply (Special Provision) Act 2010 for another five years till 2026.
The Act was first formulated and enacted in 2010 for two years to facilitate the projects to come within a short time because the country was massively suffering from load-shedding at that time.
But there is no reason and justification for having such an Act anymore because the main reason for the Act does not exist anymore now. So, I do not know why the Power Division has asked for this extension for another five years.
In fact, we could have avoided this Act by 2012-13 when the country had reached a good situation in electricity production and supply. But it has been extended again and again since then.
Different parties and companies have continuously been trying to own a project as they have been given a purchase guarantee by the government. Projects have been awarded without considering whether electricity is needed or not. Therefore, I would say some power plants have been awarded unnecessarily.
The main reason behind enacting the Act in 2010 was commissioning power plants quickly – if I need a power plant immediately and I go through the regular tender process, a few months will pass by to get the process done.
Generally, two months are needed to process a tender including a minimum of 21 days for bid submission. Then there are the other stages – tender evaluation, bidder selection, and getting government approval – that also take months.
The projects awarded under this Act are supposed to supply output within three months from issuing of the Letter of Intent (LOI). If delayed, the total process could be extended by a maximum of three months to six months.
But when we have got enough time, we should go for a regular tender for a project.
Why would I award a project that normally requires three to five years to complete through an unsolicited method or under the Special Act?
What are the reasons and rationality for awarding such projects through an unsolicited method? Why would I not spend six months searching for the best price for a project that I am accepting three and four years later?
Although "unsolicited" does not mean there are anomalies or corruption in the process, questions will arise always.
My question is: why will the government be in a questionable process?
Instead, while taking development projects now the government should put priority on transparency which can be compromised in case of emergencies.
Writer: Energy expert and dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.