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Bangladesh Plans Staggered Factory Holidays to Ease Power Crunch

A Bangladeshi garment worker wearing an all red outfit with a black face mask. They sit at a sewing machine using blue materials.
Bangladesh is considering staggered holidays for garment manufacturers to tackle a worsening power crunch caused by fuel shortages. (Shutterstock)

Bangladesh is considering staggered holidays for garment manufacturers to tackle a worsening power crunch caused by fuel shortages, according to a government minister.

The proposal involves asking factories to choose different days off instead of all of them remaining closed only on Friday, State Minister for Power and Energy 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 rolling holidays for different industrial areas is expected to reduce pressure on electricity demand as well as fuel oils for public transport, Hamid said. The South Asian nation, also the world’s no. 2 garments exporter after China, has resorted to power cuts to preserve fuel reserves amid war-induced energy price shocks, and separately approached multilateral lenders including the International Monetary Fund for loans to shore up its foreign reserves as import bills balloon.

The proposed measure will save as much as 550 megawatts of electricity a day at a time when power cuts stretched beyond the original schedule for one hour to at least three hours in some areas.

The government recently announced as much as 52 percent rise fuel oil prices, a record jump for the nation, sparking street protests. Shortly after, transport operators increased bus fares, adding to public discontent.

The power crisis was made worse after volatile global prices forced Bangladesh out of the spot market for liquefied natural gas cargoes, Hamid said in an earlier interview. The government stopped buying spot LNG cargoes in June.

Bangladesh imported about 30 percent of its LNG on a spot basis this year, down from more than 40 percent last year, according to Bloomberg NEF.

By Arun Devnath

Learn more:

World’s No. 2 Clothes Exporter Faces Order Drop as Power Falters

Bangladesh’s garment industry, the world’s No. 2 exporter after China, is facing a double whammy from slowing global demand and an energy crisis at home that’s threatening to thwart the nation’s pandemic recovery.

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