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ECONOMY | 23-04-2018 13:16

Frigerio: 'Provinces should assume costs of utility bill payment mechanism'

The government last week agreed to implement a payment plan for gas consumers, allowing them to postpone their bill payments during the cold winter months when consumption skyrockets. Consumer gas prices rose 30-40 percent in April.

The national government will try to force provincial governments to partly cover the costs of the temporary pricing mechanism it announced last week that will allow consumers to pay their Winter utility bills in delayed installments.

“The tax burden that provincial and municipal governments add to electricity prices can add an additional 25 percent (to prices). It is consumers, including those with subsidies, who end up paying”, said Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio, speaking to Radio Mitre.

“It’s not written anywhere that only the national government is required to look after the most vulnerable through pricing”, he said. 

The government last week agreed to implement a payment plan for gas consumers, allowing them to postpone their bills during the cold winter months when consumption skyrockets. Consumer gas prices rose 30-40 percent in April. The government is also looking at implementing modifications to the utility subsidies that were kept in place from the previous government for lower-income families.

“The transfer of resources to the provinces has grown 100 percent from 2015 to 2018”, Fregerio said. “This implies that the provinces should assume greater responsibilities”.

The wrangling expected take place today during a meeting of the Federal Energy Council comes as the Macri administration attempts to shed some of the social and political tension it has endured over rising utility prices.

As the opposition last week tried to stymie the Energy Ministry's ongonig phase-out of energy subsidies, outbursts of pot-banging could be heard across the country (pot-banging being a traditional form of protest in Argentina, predominately among the middle-class).

-TIMES

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