By Evie Andreou
Collecting the more than €2bn debt for providing electricity to the north and the Turkish Cypriot community of Pyla for the last five decades is not something the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) can resolve by itself as it is a political matter, the head of the utility’s Board of Directors Othonas Theodoulou said on Tuesday.
The EAC boss, who attended the House Watchdog Committee’s meeting, was slammed by MPs for the utility’s inaction to collect the sum owed to it for supplying electricity to the Turkish Cypriots of Pyla and the north.
The sum, €2.05bn in today’s prices, is for the period between 1964 and 2014. For the Pyla community, since 1964 after the intercommunal riots, the then government decided for political reasons to supply free electricity to the Turkish Cypriots and this practice continued after the invasion in 1974. All governments, aware of the political sensitivity of the issue, have continued to supply electricity.
According to the data presented to the committee, the 300 establishments owned by Turkish Cypriots in Pyla on average consume annually more than three times the electricity the 620 Greek Cypriot establishments consume.
More specifically, the average annual electricity consumption for Turkish Cypriots in Pyla per establishment is 10.635 Kilowatt Hours (kWh) and 3.460 kWh for Greek Cypriot establishments.
In total, the MPs heard, the sum owed to the EAC for electricity consumption in the occupied areas between 1964 and 2014 is €271.6m without any interest.
“If the value of each year’s electricity consumption between 1964 and 2014 is calculated in current prices in addition to late-payment interest rate, then the total cost of the uncollected consumption bill is calculated to €2.05bn,” said the head of the committee George Georgiou.
Theodoulou said that the issue has been discussed on a political level and that is seems there might be some developments.
“The EAC cannot resolve this singlehandedly. The EAC’s employees cannot disconnect the meters. There have been several attempts in the past, but our employees faced aggressive reactions,” Theodoulou said.
As regards connecting electricity grids between north and south, which was part of the confidence building measures agreed between the two leaders in May, Theodoulou said that it is expected to be completed by the end of the year.