Referring to the investigations carried out by the PN relating to higher ARMS bills, MP Edward Zammit Lewis on Monday stated that different profiles of consumption need to be examined.
The Malta Independent has been for the past months reporting that consumers are paying more than they should for their electricity, with the government promising action which has so far not taken place.
Speaking during the debate on the financial estimates of the Water Services Corporation, Zammit Lewis was criticising the studies carried out by the PN on 100 sample bills, wherein it resulted that more than 80 per cent of consumers were paying between €60 and €600 more per year. He instead said that billing has now become more efficient due to better information technology structures, which resulted in the corporation collecting money more promptly.
He also mentioned that since there is an ongoing court case about the matter, the Opposition is not abiding to the rule of law since it should wait for the case to be decided by the court.
This government reduced electricity and water bills substantially, said Zammit Lewis, slamming the Opposition for having said, some years ago, that these bills could not be lowered. He also said that politicians, namely referring to PN deputy leader for parliamentary affairs David Agius, should not get into technical matters of calculating bills.
Reacting, Agius said that the PN had experts on the matter who actually built a specific computer program for the calculations. He also noted that even Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, had, in fact, said he would look into the matter which was now being reported by several people. However, referring to several articles by The Malta Independent, Agius noted that replies were not forthcoming and it had been over a month since the Government said they would investigate the matter.
Agius also pointed out that regardless of the client’s profile the fact was that people were being billed every two months and tariffs were not being applied on a yearly basis, as stipulated by law. He said that the government was breaching both local and EU laws when computing bills in this manner. Whilst bills being sent every two months was not something new, Agius said that actual bills were now being received not estimates as before.
Due to the introduction of smart meters, the Water Services Corporation was able to identify if there are leakages in peoples’ homes, said Agius. However, he questioned if there were people who actually monitored this consumption despite the fact that there were 1,160 people employed by the Water Services Corporation at the moment. Agius also emphasised that last year, the election year, 259 people were employed with the same entity with only 72 retiring.
Minister for Energy and Water Management, Joe Mizzi, insisted that the billing system did not change except that in 2010, under the PN government, the electricity and water bills increased whilst in 2014, under the current government the bills decreased. The amount of people billed every two months did not change, said Mizzi.