Government’s energy crisis policy highly effective, PM adviser notes

The ongoing release of data concerning 2022 continues to confirm the government’s choices in addressing the energy crisis have, on the whole, been highly effective, Nikos Tsafos, the Greek prime minister’s special adviser for energy, has noted in an article contributed to energypress.

There have been many aspects to the energy crisis but the biggest problem for Greece last year was the sharp rise in natural gas prices, the energy expert pointed out. Though the country spent annual amounts of approximately one billion euros for natural gas imports between 2010 and 2019, such spending skyrocketed to 7.4 billion euros in 2022, or 3.4 percent of the country’s GDP, he stressed.

The trade deficit widened considerably, by 38 percent last year, as a result of the rise in natural gas prices, Tsafos noted.

The government faced the challenge, in 2022, of needing to find an additional sum of over six billion euros for natural gas imports required to keep the country rolling, the energy expert pointed out.

The government achieved three goals, the first being to protect the country’s citizens and economy from high-priced energy imports and avoid a derailment of fiscal targets set, the official noted.

Secondly, the administration managed to partially absorb energy price increases without impacting incentive for reasonable energy savings, and thirdly, through its policies, ensured supply security, Tsafos pointed out.

A sum of approximately 10 billion euros made available by the government in 2022 for consumer support, in the form of energy subsidies, was a fundamental part of the administration’s energy crisis policy, the energy adviser noted, adding that, as a result, Greece achieved a higher growth rate than the rest of Europe.

This sum was not taken from the state budget but, instead, raised through windfall taxes imposed in the energy market, Tsafos noted.

As a result, a modest budget surplus, before interest, was achieved in 2022, while the country’s public debt decreased by 23 percentage points, he highlighted.

Tsafos also highlighted society’s positive response to the need for energy savings, noting electricity usage in Greece fell by 6.7 percent in 2022, more than double the European average of 3.1 percent. Natural gas usage in Greece fell by 19 percent last year, well over the European average of 13 percent, he added.