Energy Regulator Head Ivanov: PM Should Respect Regulator's Independence

NW 11:46:31 09-01-2022

Energy Regulator Head Ivanov:
PM Should Respect Regulator's

Sofia, January 9 (BTA)- In an interview for Bulgarian National Radio on Sunday, the head of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC), Ivan Ivanov, said that the Prime Minister should respect the regulator's independence. "It is particularly insulting that this government has not shown interest, at least to understand the essence of our decision on prices and what the disadvantages of the moratorium [imposed by Parliament to keep heating, electricity and water supply prices for households unchanged] are," Ivanov argued.

According to him, the moratorium crushed a very well-balanced decision of the EWRC, and consumers will pay dearly for it once it is lifted.

The initial estimates for electricity showed it should have appreciated by 64 per cent, but the EWRC used entirely regulatory instruments and reduced that to 11 per cent, Ivanov explained. In his words, at a meeting with caretaker prime minister Stefan Yanev he had proposed a reduction of the VAT on energy carriers to 10 per cent from 20 per cent within three to four months. This step would have led to an appreciation of electricity for households by 1 to 3 per cent on average, thus solving the issue for households consumers without a moratorium. Afterwards the government could have sought to compensate businesses for the high electricity prices, Ivanov argued.

When it comes to heating prices, the Government is being forced to and will do everything within its power to avoid an explosion of discontent. The state of heating utilities and water and sewerage operators is indeed very bad, Ivanov also said.

The biggest achievement of the EWRC's current team is the protection of the regulator's independence, which "the government leaders are currently trying to brutally crush", Ivanov noted. He is expecting a letter from the European Commission commenting on these actions of the Bulgarian Prime Minister. The Commission has been informed about them not by the regulator but by nongovernmental organizations linked to the energy sector, he specified.

According to him, the current accusations against the EWRC over the energy price hike mean either a low level of information or a high level of incompetence, lack of knowledge on the matter.

Ivanov expects the name of the next EWRC head to become known at the end of January. This person should be honest, competent and resistant to lobbyism and the Executive's pressure, he said.