15 March 2006

The Web
Business Today

Resources Authority opts for a ‘no comment’

As time passes it is becoming all the more clear that the Malta Resources Authority has consistently failed to utilise its regulatory function to scrutinise and sanction Enemalta’s changes to the surcharge tariff on utility bills with the authority’s top official yesterday insisting he will not comment on the controversy.
Malta Resources Authority (MRA) chief executive officer Antoine Riolo opted for a terse one line ‘no comment’ reply when asked by Business Today whether the authority had asked for any justifications from Enemalta when it raised the surcharge to 67.5 per cent.
“The authority considers it advisable to await the final conclusions of this exercise and then comment,” Riolo said, referring to the request made by Enemalta for an independent verification of the surcharge mechanism.
The questions had been sent last week but remained unanswered.
MRA was shaken out of its slumber by investments minister Austin Gatt who instructed Enemalta to request the authority to conduct an independent verification of the surcharge mechanism last week following a common outcry by all the social partners.
Gatt was reacting to the complaints raised by the members of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCSD) who met in urgency last week to discuss the exorbitant price hike. The social partners described the increase as a severe blow to local businesses and showed concern at the lack of transparency shown by Enemalta, which has not yet published its costings to justify the increase.
The social partners also protested about the MRA’s silence on the issue.
In a statement the General Retailers and Traders Union (GRTU) said “these increases are unjustified and the result of indecision and incompetence of the authorities responsible for the protection of the public interest.”
The GRTU insisted SME’s and householders should not be further burdened with these “unjust increases.”
Enemalta holds a monopoly as the sole energy provider in Malta and the authority is duty bound to ask for transparency in its operations.
“The Malta Resources Authority is a public corporate body with regulatory responsibilities relating to water, energy and mineral resources in the Maltese Islands,” says the introductory text on the authority’s website.
But regulatory responsibility, it seems, is just on paper as Enemalta continues to adjust the surcharge every two months, an exercise that lacks transparency despite the company’s dominant position in the market.

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