The need for revising power tariff upwards

Upper Ye Ywar Hydropower Project, Upper Kyaingtaung Hydropower Project and Thu Htay Hydropower Project are our current projects. The State has allocated adequate finances to complete these projects in the next 2-3 years.          Deputy Minister Dr Tun Naing

  • By Shin Min

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(Continued from 17 July Article)
Htet Htet Htun: I want to discuss something on what the Deputy Minister said. I hear that people will still not be paying the amount of electricity they are actually using even after the meter has been increased. I think this is important for the people to know. We want to know why do you choose now to increase the electricity rates.
Deputy Minister: The truth is, the previous administration system was socialist. It’s where the State is responsible for most everything and it’s why they subsidize even when they make losses. The development of a country that chooses this route and one that bases itself on market orientation are very different. Our country has now shifted to an open market policy.
Like we’ve discussed earlier, people grew up in the previous administration system and are used to it. Now that things are changing people are wondering why the levies are increased out of habit. The people need to be open to change too.
Dr Aung Tun Thet: If you ask someone receiving things for free to make some sort of payment, they will refuse. It takes courage to ask for appropriate compensation. Subsidies are used by governments that practice administration. They have fixed prices. It’s sort of garnering public support.
The government will not be able to handle subsidizing everything in the long run. An important phrase here is ‘good governance’, which every nation needs. If we keep extracting from the Union budget for subsidies then there won’t be enough for national development. This has to be understood.
Individually, everyone will be more concerned with their electricity bill increasing. Another question, who is the government? You are the government and this is your money. The government has no money of its own. It manages the money collected from the people.
Don’t look at the short term. What saddens me is that we cannot hear the voice of people who do not even have electricity. There are still a lot of people who don’t have access to electricity around the year. What should we do for them? Does that mean some of us have to make sacrifices? I don’t mean that.
This is the responsibility of the government and they will need to face hatred if necessary. The government needs to have this kind of bravery to move forward. If they only want to receive admiration then it won’t be a bright future for the country. We should be welcoming their bold choices and cooperate with them.
Deputy Minister: Our country’s primary source of electric generation is hydropower and natural gases. Tikyit Power Plant is the only one that uses coal and produces just 1-2 per cent. Hydropower produces 55 per cent and the rest is from gas turbines. The recent tender ads are for natural gas.
The reason is there is not enough electricity these days. We have to solve these issues within one to two years, and so we found that using natural gas is the effective short term solution.
That means mixed generation is the solution in the middle and long run. Upper Ye Ywar Hydropower Project, Upper Kyaingtaung Hydropower Project and Thu Htay Hydropower Project are our current projects. The State has allocated adequate finances to complete these projects in the next 2-3 years. The government has also signed a joint venture with a French company for the Shwe Li – 3 Hydropower Power Project (670 MW).
There are a lot of resources for generating hydropower in our country. We need to use them to benefit everyone and authorities are beginning to do just that. But hydropower is dependent on the volume of rainwater that naturally flows through.
June has already past but water still hasn’t flown into the reservoirs, meaning we cannot produce enough electricity. We don’t wish to cut off the power and especially not during the hot summer but given the situation, we cannot generate enough power.
If we were to supplement that with natural gas then the production would be high. To counter that we need to mix in coal-powered generation in proportionate production rates. But people will have other things to worry about now, such as the pollution it causes. We are looking for ways that will have the minimal negative impact on society and that is generally accepted around the world.
We will be incorporating solar methods similar to the solar panels installed in Minbu recently. The mixed generation plan will regulate cost efficiency in the future.
Dr Aung Tun Thet: We’re not just thinking about changing the means of production. It’s not a subsidy reform, it’s a sector reform. Favourably, it would be renewable source or non-renewable source but what’s happening now is clean energy and green energy.
The State is also operating MSDP and Project Bank. It would be better if the tender processes the Deputy Minister mentioned are included in the Project Bank under electricity generation.
What is more important is that if we think about the future sustainability of our nation, even with the ministry going toward energy and environmental friendliness, there needs to be mixed generation.
Our people are protesting against the use of coal but they are using it in Yokohama, Paris and Germany. Of course, their technology is superior but nevertheless, we’d like it to be sustainable energy whenever we can. If the weather-dependent hydropower doesn’t give much confidence then we can consider solar energy.

U Ko Ko: We’ve had a long discussion and it’s almost coming to a close. Is there anything left you wish to talk about?
Daw Khine Khine Nwe: Speaking as a businessperson, we’d like to see our business and sector succeed while helping to develop our nation. As we head towards industrialization and value chain, we need to build more infrastructure and that requires a steady supply of electricity. We could expand more than this if we had uninterrupted electric supply. Could the Deputy Minister tell us how they would deal with that in the short-term?
Htet Htet Htun: On our side, the citizens are facing the increase in the electric bill. But after listening to the explanations in this discussion session, I realize we are increasing a part of our expenditure a little bit for the good of the entire nation. I guess the public needs to try to understand this better.
Besides, we’re paying for the amount we’re actually using so there’s way to refute that. The best view for the public to adopt on this is to think of ways to decrease their expenses by being careful not to spend electricity unnecessarily.
Some people unknowingly waster power out of habit. They may not want to pay a lot for their electric bill but they will leave their air-cons and computers on. How will the Deputy Minister educate the people on avoiding wastage, as I believe this is one point towards resolving this issue.
Deputy Minister: The ministries and government are also citizens. They are citizens who work to resolve the daily struggles of the general public, which includes supplying enough electricity. We kindly suggest the public to practice proper usage to avoid increasing their electric bill unnecessarily.
MRTV regularly announces suggestions to efficiently reduce electric consumption. They’re not complex suggestions nor are they suggesting to stop using electricity. They’re telling you how you could be wasting energy.
An advice to the industrial business owners. I think it is immensely important to choose energy efficient machinery for your work. We will be using the saved revenue from the changes to the electric rate to build new power plants across the country.
Our ministry will ensure not a dime is wasted while constructing the necessary infrastructure for our nation. We aim to supply sufficient electricity and energy to our future generations.
Dr Aung Tun Thet: We managed to discuss about sectoral reforms in addition to changes to the electricity pricing. In conclusion, I’d like to urge each and every citizen to be accountable. Use electricity, don’t waste it.
U Ko Ko: I thank all of you for participating in this discussion.
(Translated by Pen Dali)

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