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    Kosovo minister says energy price increase 'inevitable'


    January 27, 2022 - BBC International Reports (Europe)

     

      Text of report by Website of Kosovo Albanian privately-owned newspaper Koha Ditore on 24 January

      [Unattributed report: "Rizvanolli: Increase of Energy Tariffs Is Inevitable"]

      Kosovo's Minister of Economy Artane Rizvanolli said that an increase of energy tariffs is inevitable although this is upsetting for both the country's citizens and the government.

      "But this is the situation we are faced with, which is an upsetting situation. We have not built new production capacities in the last 22 years - I am speaking about the postwar period, but new capacities have not been built in over 40 years. We do not have sufficient capacity to cover energy consumption, especially during winter, and we have also removed the bloc tariffs. This has left us exposed to an external crisis. Traders do not ask what your GDP is; you have to buy electricity at the market price. The increase will happen - it is inevitable if we want to maintain the energy supply," Rizvanolli said during KTV's [Pristina-based Kohavision television] "Interaktiv" talk show.

      She said another option is for the government to completely subsidize energy imports, which would be over 130 million euros.

      "We need to judge whether it is better to proceed with a full energy subsidy, meaning that the consumers are not alerted that they need to save energy. This year's total budget of the Ministry of Economy is 33 million euros, while we are actually talking about a 75 million euro subsidy -- subsidizing it in full will reach 130 million euros. It is sad, upsetting for us as a government as there are better ways to spend the money, and it is upsetting for the citizens to see this money being paid from their budget," Rizvanolli said. Rizvanolli: There is no deal with north macedonia for sale of coal

      Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli also spoke about the [Prime Minister Albin] Kurti-led government's energy strategy. She said the goal is to focus on renewable energy and reach 25 to 30 per cent of energy production from these sources by 2021 [year as received].

      She also said that as part of the strategy there will be discussions for the reconstruction of the two blocks of "Kosova A" [coal-fired power plant] and production of energy from natural gas.

      Rizvanolli emphasized that the construction of joint gas capacities with a neighbouring country, Albania in the first place, cannot be excluded.

      She rejected the option of the construction of a new coal-fired power plant.

      She also said that there is no finalized agreement with North Macedonia on the sale of coal to this country.

      "We do not currently have an agreement; all we have is Macedonia's interest in importing coal from us. We had a meeting with the Macedonian minister [not further identified], KEK [Kosovo Power Corporation], and ESM [Macedonia Power Company] of Macedonia. We agreed that directors of the respective companies look into the possibilities. Ideally, it would be best for us to exchange coal with electricity, but it depends on when they have free capacities for export and the amount of coal required," Rizvanolli said during KTV Interaktiv talk show. Rizvanolli: Debts in energy system reach 100 million euros

      Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli said the debts of Kosovo's energy system have reached around 100 million euros and the increase in the energy bills is inevitable.

      "Currently, there is almost 100 million euros of debt in the country's energy system," Rizvanolli said during KTV's Interaktiv show.

      She said the ERO [Energy Regulatory Office; ZRRE in Albanian] report is in the consultation phase, but there should be no illusions about what is said there.

      "We should not have any illusions that this 130 million euros that the ERO has calculated is missing from the system, so we cannot think that it will go down to 60 million euros or 20 million or 0 euros. It was clear to us even before the ERO came out with this report; of course, we were aware of those figures and it was expected that the impact would be even bigger. We imported 40 per cent of the energy that was consumed in December and January, namely until a few days ago. Prices have gone up seven-fold compared to the normal market prices. In such conditions, it was predictable that the impact on tariffs would be big," Rizvanolli said. Rizvanolli: Government supports return of block tariffs

      Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli said the department she heads still does not have a comment on ERO's proposal for electricity prices.

      Speaking on KTV's "Interaktiv" talk show, she said the deadline to come up with comments is 28 January, however, according to her, there is something that is already certain.

      "What is already known is that we support the return of the block tariffs. Removing the block tariffs in 2017 was the biggest mistake in the energy field and one of the reasons for this difficult situation that we have today. We support the block tariffs in conditions when we cannot produce enough energy, especially at a time when imports are so expensive," she said.

      The proposed block tariffs provide for an increase in the prices for the households that use over 600 kilowatts per month.

      Source: Koha Ditore in Albanian 2355 gmt 24 Jan 22

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