DHAKA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Energy-starved Bangladesh on Monday decided to reschedule the office hour of government and autonomous institutions to save electricity and ease traffic gridlock.
The decision was made at a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam told journalists.
He said government offices and autonomous institutions will remain open from 8:00 a.m. local time to 3:00 p.m. local time instead of the usual eight hours from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
According to the cabinet secretary, banks in the country will remain open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
He said the government decided to keep educational institutions closed two days a week to save energy, adding the decision which will come into force from Wednesday is aimed at saving electricity and easing the perennial traffic congestion in the capital Dhaka.
In light of the crisis caused by the Ukraine war, Bangladesh last month announced a country-wide load shedding up to two hours daily.
Hasina had earlier called all to maintain austerity and increase savings for any crisis in the future.
She said the prices of fuel oil have soared, and many countries have been facing a scarcity of power amid the recent global economic turmoil due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The prices of electricity-producing diesel, fuel oil and liquefied natural gas have increased sharply, as transportation has been hampered due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, she said.
Last week, Hasina indicated her government's plan to import crude oil from Russia amid price concerns, saying "If India can procure (oil from Russia) with non-dollar payment, why can't we?"
Earlier this month, Bangladesh's retail fuel prices were hiked to levels not seen since the country's independence in 1971.
The Bangladeshi government hiked fuel prices by up to 51.7 percent.
Officials said the latest price hikes at the retail level were inevitable to reduce the subsidy burden on state-run distribution companies.
Experts said the fuel price hike would worsen inflation, which increased to 7.56 percent in June, the highest rate in about nine years.
Also, a coalition of left-wing political parties led by the Left Democratic Alliance (LDA), a combination of seven left-leaning political parties, called a strike across Bangladesh on Aug. 25, protesting against an increase in fuel, fertilizer prices and prices of essential commodities. ■