Bangladesh is considering staggered furloughs for garment makers to tackle worsening power shortages caused by fuel shortages, according to a government minister.
The proposal is to ask factories to choose different days off instead of all staying closed only on Fridays, State Energy and Power Minister Nasrul Hamid said in an interview. “We sat down with business leaders on Sunday and they agreed to our proposal in principle,” he said.
The system of continuous furloughs for different industrial areas is expected to reduce pressure on electricity demand as well as fuels for public transport, Hamid said. The South Asian nation, also the world’s second largest garment exporter after China, resorted to power cuts to preserve fuel reserves amid war-induced energy price shocks, and approached separately multilateral lenders, including the International Monetary Fund, for loans to shore up its overseas markets. reserves as import bills swell.
The proposed measure will save up to 550 megawatts of electricity per day at a time when power outages have extended beyond the original schedule for an hour to at least three hours in some areas.
The government recently announced a 52% increase in fuel oil prices, a record jump for the country, sparking street protests. Soon after, transport operators raised bus fares, adding to public discontent.
The power crisis escalated after global price volatility forced Bangladesh out of the spot market for liquefied natural gas cargoes, Hamid said in an earlier interview. The government stopped buying spot LNG shipments in June.
Bangladesh imported about 30% of its spot LNG this year, up from more than 40% last year, according to Bloomberg NEF.