By Evie Andreou
The House commerce committee on Tuesday asked the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) to hand over a list of the utility’s large debtors.
The EAC is owned a total of €112 million, €51m of which is attributable to long-term arrears. It agreed to provide the list but was heavily criticised at the meeting for its decision to impose a 4.5 per cent interest on old debts and was asked to reconsider.
“The interest is a reminder to consumers that they must be punctual in their obligations,” EAC director general Stelios Stylianou told deputies. He repeated the EAC’s stance that vulnerable groups were exempt from the levy.
Currently commercial and industrial customers are €17.5 million in arrears, households €12 million, including €2.3 million classed as vulnerable, local authorities another €1.4 million and others €16.5 million. He said at the end of 2013, government services had owed €4.5 million but this had now been reduced to €2.3 million. Stylianou expressed the EAC’s willingness for dialogue with al customers to arrange payment plans.
Even though energy regulatory authority’s chairman, Georgios Shammas, said that from December 2012 until the summer of 2014, the authority recorded a decrease in electricity prices of 20 per cent, deputies said they were still too high.
Lefteris Christoforou chairman of the committee said it was important for net metering to be installed and used in households and businesses as there was no other way of saving on electricity bills.
Small businesses were also on the agenda of the committee and Christoforou said that a number of support programmes worth millions had been signed by the government and the European Investment Bank.
He also said that the setting up of offices of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development in Cyprus and their expressed intention to give €500m to €700m for strengthening small businesses, was a positive step.