Front page.

NEWS | Wednesday, 25 March 2009

MRA considering 26% discount on utility bills

A revised financial forecast for Enemalta has revealed that the entire cost of operating the sole electricity provider for the next six months will be some 17% less than expected.
This revised forecast came about shortly after Enemalta published its audited accounts for 2006 and 2007, after the price of oil plummeted to the region of US$50 per barrel.
In view of such developments, the Infrastructure Ministry has recommended the Malta Resources Authority to apply a 21-26% discount “to those bands requiring it most”.
The discount is based on the period between March and September, after which a second six-month review will take place.
Last October, the same ministry announced a controversial price hike in electricity rates based on estimated accounts and the hefty price with which Enemalta was purchasing its oil.
Yesterday infrastructure minister Austin Gatt however said this discount will only be applicable to the domestic sector, therefore excluding the possibility of allowing businesses to benefit from any reduction in the price of oil.
Enemalta Chairman Alex Tranter said that informal talks with the MRA over the ministry’s recommendations were held and there was “no disagreement on MRA’s behalf with regard to the principles outlined.”
In a reaction, GRTU vice-president Philip Fenech said he had been inundated with calls from establishment owners over the last three or four weeks. “I received calls from operators of all sizes, all in the tourism-catering and entertainment industry. Some were shocked at the bills they received – especially when taking into account the slowdown being felt in the industry over the last six months.”
Fenech said complainants told him that even if “their establishments were busy, the new bills would not even be affordable. It is obvious that any reduction in oil prices should be reflected in our pricing. It wouldn’t make sense for domestic rates to go down without commercial ones following suit.”
Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) president Kevin De Cesare said he was surprised at the news. “The price of oil has gone down for everyone and we are experiencing a slowdown in tourism. We’re not asking for favours now – this is our right.”
Throughout the controversy which followed the announcement of increased electricity rates last October, an MHRA newsletter sent to its members had carried the news that as a result of efforts made by its president in negotiations with government, smaller bars, hotels and restaurants will be made to pay lower rates than ever before – with some discounts ranging between 10-20% on previous rates. Larger establishments however, would pay increased amounts in the region of 5-10%.
Asked about this statement, Austin Gatt said did not acknowledge the existence of the agreement.
Gatt also denied the directive from eleven trade unions to consumers not to pay the electricity bills had any affect whatsoever on Enemalta’s cash flow. “There are issues with Enemalta’s cash flow, but in no way is this due to the unions’ directive. I will not be as cruel to say that this directive was self-serving, and was issued so that they don’t pay their own bills.”


Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



Download front page in pdf file format


All the interviews from Reporter on MaltaToday's YouTube channel.


Stop hiding behind EU directives


Harry Vassallo

From Caiphas to Pilate

Anna Mallia

First and second-class public holidays

A taste of Ebba’s sketches
Currently NUVO art & dine is exhibiting the first commemorative exhibition of Ebba von Fersen Balzan organised by her husband Saviour Balzan and Nuvo.

An honorary Maltese, a visionary artist
Artists, art critics and friends unanimously gather to remember the impact and value of Ebba von Fersen Balzan’s work and her strong connection with the Maltese islands


The Julian Manduca Award

Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email