Delaying Power Price Hike Harmful - Bulgaria Energy Min
Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova has warned a move to put off electricity price hikes will have a negative impact on the energy system.
The minister has also added that retaining price levels will be detrimental to the National Electricity Company (NEK), the state-owned utility which in her words "is generating new deficit every day" and that industrial bills have to soar if a further collapse in the debt-ridden energy sector is to be avoided.
Petkova's interview with private national NOVA TV station comes just as businesses have started their daily protest action against a planned rise in energy bills for industrial consumers, arguing the move will have catastrophic consequences.
On Friday business unions spearheaded an hour-long mass action of over 1000 companies which stopped work or switched to reduced capacity for an hour.`
Industry representatives are calling on the national energy regulator KEVR (Commission for Energy and Water Regulation) to abandon its plans to increase prices by 13-20% for energy-intensive consumers as of July 1.
KEVR on Friday was to decide whether a motion in Parliament to postpone the introduction of new prices for a month, which was passed earlier this week, should be upheld, but failed to do so during its session.
The watchdog is due to hold a new session next week.
Meanwhile Bulgaria's government took a U-turn in its previous position on the price increase. While PM Boyko Borisov maintained last week he was ready to join an anti-hike protest, he told reporters on Friday the cabinet is doing its best to comply with the needs of businesses, but it also has to deal with the problems of the energy sector.
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