Page last updated at 07:12 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 08:12 UK

Bangladesh adopts new time rules

By James Melik
Business reporter, BBC World Service, Bangladesh

Coil of electrical cables
Power delivery systems have to be updated and modernised

The Bangladesh government has agreed to adopt daylight saving time (DST), responding to calls from business.

DST is confirmed to start at midnight between Friday 19 June and Saturday 20 June 2009, to save power and alleviate the nation's energy shortfall.

The government made the decision to introduce DST in Bangladesh to address the country's energy shortages, particularly during the summer period.

It means businesses will open and close an hour earlier than usual.

This arrangement aims to save energy by reducing artificial lighting in the evening, when the demand for power traditionally peaks.

At least 70 countries around the world - including the US, Britain, Japan and Pakistan - have been able to save on power consumption by using the DST system.

Meanwhile, the date on which DST will come to an end has yet to be confirmed.

Energy Crisis

About 90 million out of 140 million people in Bangladesh do not have direct access to electricity and those who do have it suffer frequent cuts during the day, which can often last up to an hour each time.

The cuts are part of what the government refers to as a power-sharing programme, but the power crisis is a perennial problem which presents a serious challenge to businesses.

We want infrastructure support - electricity, a port, a cluster of land
Annisul Huq, Mohammadi Group

Those who can afford them have installed their own generators, but that can be expensive.

Syed Ahmed of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh says he spends about $40 a day runing his generators.

He blames successive governments for failing to invest in infrastructure and complains that the national power grid is very old.

"It will take some time to improve the situation," he says, "but maybe they can manage the supply better."

Power fund


US inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin first came up with the idea of daylight saving time in 1784

Annisul Huq, who runs a textile company, is also calling upon the government to do more for the business community.

"We don't want money," he declares. "We want infrastructure support - electricity, a port, a cluster of land."

With that kind of assistance, he is adamant that entrepreneurs will do the rest.

He is fully aware that the government lacks funds to improve the power supply, but says there is some money which is not properly taxed.

"I'm not talking about money from drugs or armaments," he says, "but money which doesn't go through the books as it should."

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If those tax loopholes are closed, Mr Huq believes there would be cash available for a power fund which could at least start to tackle the shortage of electricity and gas.

Meanwhile, his Mohammadi Group is operating a 10-megawatt plant which is selling power to the Development Board of Bangladesh on a 15-year rental agreement.

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