08 March 2006

The Web
Business Today

New study on surcharge - Gatt

In very animated terms, GRTU director general Vince Farrugia yesterday described the new surcharge of 67.5 per cent as a “mortal blow” and “distorting” on the market.
The General Retailers Union (GRTU) has protested with the EU about the lack of transparency with which the increase was implemented. The GRTU is complaining that the increase was done in a rush taking little consideration of SMEs, especially those considered as ‘heavy consumers’.
Speaking with Business Today, Farrugia explained how the Lm21,000 capping limit protects only large enterprises and ignores small businesses like bakers or sprayers. He also criticised the Malta Resources Authority (MRA) for failing to show consumers the how and why of this sudden increase.
Government had agreed to discuss the increase with the GRTU confidentially and asked the organisation to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order for it to be given the information. But Farrugia yesterday reiterated that government’s insistence on a non-disclosure clause, was in breech of the EU’s policy which gives consumers the right to know what they are paying for.
Investments Minister Austin Gatt yesterday said that he instructed the MRA to conduct “another” independent study on the workings that led to the surcharge. The minister was reacting to the general concern expressed by members of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development who met on Monday to discuss the recent surcharge hike.
The MRA remains conspicuous by its absence in all the debate over energy costs. Business Today sent a number of questions to MRA’s chief executive officer Antoine Riolo on Monday, asking whether the authority has insisted on Enemalta to present and publish its costings. The newspaper also asked whether these costings justify the surcharge increase and if the authority did sanction the surcharge hike.
These questions remained unanswered at the time of going to print.

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