Electricity exemptions welcome but not enough – Scicluna
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Maltese Labour MEP Prof Edward Scicluna today welcomed the news published in (KullHadd, 25 April) that utility consumers over the age of 65 as well as those with outstanding unpaid bills not exceed 1000 euro are now being exempted from having their electricity service disconnected. This news was confirmed by Enemalta Corporation.
Commenting, Prof Scicluna remarked, “I am glad that the Government has finally seen sense that the most vulnerable Maltese citizens should not have their electricity cut off. Nonetheless, while this measure is one step and these electricity exemptions are a welcome step forward, they are not enough. There are still many hundreds of families who also need help.”
On the 20th April Labour MEP Scicluna tabled a question in the European Parliament in which he called on the European Commission to take action in response to the growing number of Maltese families being disconnected from electricity following the recent massive hike in utility tariffs.
In his written question Scicluna referred to figures released by the Maltese government earlier this year, where 2148 households were disconnected from electricity between January and October 2009, because they were unable to pay. He pointed out that this figure represents 1.8% of all Maltese households on an annual basis, which include vulnerable groups such as families in receipt of social assistance benefits.
He asked the commission if it agreed that this was in direct contravention of the EU Electricity Directive, and in particular article 3, paragraph 7, which states that: “Member States shall take appropriate measures to protect final customers, and shall, in particular, ensure that there are adequate safeguards to protect vulnerable customers. In this context, each Member State shall define the concept of vulnerable customers which may refer to energy poverty and, inter alia, to the prohibition of disconnection of electricity to such customers in critical times.”
Concluding, Prof Scicluna stated, “Enemalta’s recent policy should be extended to all vulnerable families, and this policy should be made officially public so that Enemalta will not only conform with European law but also with the social inclusion polices which the Electricity Directive requires from all European member states, especially in such critical times when so many in our communities face energy poverty.”