ELECTRICITY RATES

Gov’t to tackle power hikes

Finance and energy ministries are seeking ways to soften the blow for consumers

gov-t-to-tackle-power-hikes

The government is worried about price hikes in a series of essential goods, with the Finance Ministry seeking ways to contain the problem through a number of interventions, the main one being in electricity rates, where consumers could see increases of up to 50% this month.

Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas is said to have asked the electricity sector to contribute toward the containment of rate hikes. This coming Tuesday he is expected to hold talks with market entities and finalize a package of temporary measures to ease the pressure on electricity consumers, which will be announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Thessaloniki International Fair.

Power rates get priority as Finance Ministry sources say that the hikes will have some permanent features which will hurt large and socially vulnerable sections of the population.

The government intervention is set to concern consumer bills, as the Finance Ministry is seeking ways to return to consumers the increased tax revenues that will automatically stem from the increase in wholesale power rates.

Besides electricity bills, it is almost certain that, in Thessaloniki, the PM will also announce the maintenance of the VAT rate on coffee, public transport and tourism services at 13%.

Speaking on Skai TV on Friday, Alternate Finance Minister Thodoros Skylakakis noted there will be some interventions in the sectors where price hikes appear to have a permanent character, pointing to power bills. Regarding gas rates, which have also increased, Skylakakis raised some doubts as to how permanent this hike would be. As for the price hikes affected by soaring demand and which could also be permanent, Skylakakis noted that interventions there will also have to be temporary, as “the state revenues come from the taxpayers.”

Government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou also spoke on Friday about offsetting policies to ease the pressure on consumers’ pockets.