Serbian power utility EPS may lose its market share warns Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic, the interview

23. September 2013. / News Serbia Energy

If the attitude towards consumers would not change, EPS will lose market. Therefore, the Ministry of Energy required the electricity bills to be clear and understood a few months ago. They are not so yet and that seems to be a challenge for EPS. As a consumer, I cannot understand the professionalism lack towards consumers, said in an interview PhD Zorana Mihajlovic, the Minister of Energy.

Why were so many problems with electricity bills?

– As a ministry we have done everything that the public provider starts well, but it is obvious that EPS was not ready for change. And this is not issue of some distribution or a company, this is a problem of the whole EPS system.

Now it is EPS turn to implement what he promised, and they said that they would determine who was responsible in the distributions for crowds at the counters and other problems.

Can the minister come in an unannounced visit to a public company without the director approval and has he in this case the authority to call over anyone for its work?

I do not understand what you want to imply by this question? Like you want to say that the directors in our country are “polar bears”, protected from the public and especially from the ministers who do not want to hide away leisure and chaos in institutions, but to solve them, because those institutions and themselves understand as a service in the engagement of citizens.

Besides I am the minister, I am also a citizen who pays the bills, calling services to obtain information, and etc. I am driving in public transport, so does that mean that as a minister I should firstly report to the GSP director and if I see that some driver drives driver by unadjusted speed, I cannot say it in the media?

How do you comment the fact that very few of them applied for free kilowatts and gas?

Today it is 72,000 customers and that number grows monthly by five to 10 percent. This is far less than we expected, and the reasons maybe should seek in the information lack of citizens, and in the procedure, which, in cooperation with local governments, we try to simplify. As if anyone do not want to deal with it except the Ministry of Energy.

How is it going negotiation with plants as large gas and oil borrowers?

On the proposal of the Ministry of Energy, the government adopted a conclusion by which it was recommended reprogramming of gas and oil debts with the heating plants, which would go up to 60 rates, so we relaxed financially heating plants and ensured their unobstructed work. The rescheduling conclusion of the reserve goods started, and almost all companies signed a rescheduling with “Srbijagas”. Almost everything was agreed with the heating plants, in cooperation with local governments, that they also allow to their customers to settle their debts in rates.

We have done everything in order that the plants are ready for the heating season, but we cannot guarantee that there will not be problems in the plants where for many years the situation is problematic.

How do you comment on the possible increase in the gas price on every three months?

In long-term supply contracts it is common the prices to be adjusted on every three months, which means changes in both directions. So both, price increases and cuts. There are other segments of the gas policies that are not only energy issues which need to be dealt more intensively and effectively, from the “Srbijagas ” reform,  financial consolidation of this company, as well as further work on the new gas routes, such as South Stream and Nis-Dimitrovgrad.

Will we import electricity this winter? Last year we bought it from the RS, but it was not necessary, what was done with the surplus?

Serbia purchased the public tender the surplus of Republika Srpska who were not only dedicated for the last winter, but the follow winter. Of course we did not buy anything that we assessed to need, but only a part. Will there be further imported electricity depends on the situation, but for now we have secured sufficient quantities.

With investor who wanted to build the largest solar park in Serbia the contract was terminated. Do you have information that they sued Serbia to the London Court and penalties of 900,000 EUR threaten to us?

We have no official information about whether an action was brought. As a ministry we are very open and we are very keen to help the investors to invest in Serbia.

Why did you agree to sign such a contract, if you knew from the beginning that the company has no solvency? Did it have to be so because of the coalition agreement?

The Government made the signing decision of the agreement, at the proposal of the Ministry of Finance. As a ministry we had objections on the document from the beginning. For us in the Ministry of Energy this was a doctrine, that in the future for all the companies with which we discuss or collaborate, we also should do credit checks.

The deadline to the NIS for paying mining rent by three percent was extended until 2023. At the same time the NIS also got this year the opportunity to sell regressed fuel to farmers because of what the other traders are angry. Are these special concessions to the NIS, and if they are why is so?

My opinion about ore rent is already known. About the conclusion which was extended until 2023. you should ask the Ministry of Mines. Serbia’s interest is to have a profitable company like NIS, but it is also an interest that, through the charge of mining rent, state has the ability to invest in new research projects.

The Ministry of Agriculture made the regulations on regressed fuel sale for farmers. We said for few times that there was no reason that regressed fuel was not available on all pumps that provided some quantities. We must not make a selection, especially when it favors the strongest, to which such favoritism is not necessary, as they already have an outstanding business success.

Source; Serbia Energy/MERZ

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