ECONOMY

PPC defends proposed power hikes

Public Power Corporation (PPC) Chief Executive Officer Takis Athanassopoulos defended yesterday the business plan that sees annual electricity tariff hikes above the inflation rate, saying the increases are necessary to keep the company afloat. PPC, one of the country’s largest companies, has faced criticism in the press for planning steep tariff hikes at a time that households are feeling the pinch from the global credit crunch. «We are not talking increases here, we are talking about what needs to be done so that PPC can save itself from a crisis,» said Athanassopoulos. On Tuesday, PPC told unionists it is proposing annual electricity rate hikes above inflation over the next six years and a drop in the annual cost per employee, in order to fund its investment program of 13 billion euros for the 2009-2014 period. Athanassopoulos reportedly told unionists that PPC cannot be funded by credit in the current international situation, and that the company’s negative results should be kept in mind. The former state monopoly has seen its profits decline, as limited government-granted tariff increases failed to offset rising oil prices and expensive energy imports to meet growing demand and outdated plants. PPC’s charges are set by the government. Athanassopoulos also said he hasn’t resigned, denying reports that his demands for price increases have angered the government.