ECONOMY

State bodies have unpaid power bills of 170 mln euros

The public authorities and broader public sector appear to consider the Public Power Corporation as their grand benefactor as state debts to the country’s main power supplier amounted to 170 million euros at the end of 2012, during a period when PPC is struggling to deal with major cash flow problems.

The long list of 320 state bodies that have not paid their electricity bills includes central ministry agencies, local and regional authorities, the country’s biggest universities, central and regional hospitals and medical centers, academic foundations, virtually all municipal water companies, museums, sports and cultural centers and various others. Despite not repaying their debts to the power corporation, their supply has not been cut off.

The chairman and chief executive of PPC, Arthouros Zervos, has forwarded the list of state bodies owing the company money to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, asking him to intervene. PPC’s demand for payment, which comes at a time when the entire energy sector is facing liquidity problem, has the support of Deputy Minister for Energy Makis Papageorgiou and has secured Stournaras’s initial acceptance.

The issue is also related to the power rate hikes for 2013 currently under negotiation, as bolstering PPC’s cash flow to the tune of 170 million euros would allow the government to limit the increases and thus reduce the impact on household budgets.

Topping the list of state bodies that owe PPC money is the Interior Ministry, with a debt of 58.4 million euros, of which 38.9 million concerns municipal water and sewage companies’ unpaid bills. The Development and Infrastructure Ministry follows with debts of 30 million euros, half of which (15 million) is owed by Attiko Metro, the Athens metro company, while the ministry’s central agencies owe PPC some 3.6 million euros. The company responsible for the construction and management of the Egnatia Highway across northern Greece (Egnatia Odos SA) owes 8 million euros.

The Education Ministry ranks third in the PPC state debtor list, owing some 23.7 million euros. The ministry’s own list of debtors, besides its central agencies, contains a total of 62 bodies that have not paid for the electricity they have used. This includes the country’s top universities, such as Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, with debts of 5.5 million euros, and major sports centers such as the Olympic Sports Center of Athens (OAKA), the centerpiece of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, with debts of 4.3 million euros to PPC.