Unilateral action on energy cost possible, minister says

The Greek government could take unilateral action aimed at reducing industry-related energy costs if an agreement was not reached with the country’s creditor representatives, or troika, the Minister for Development and Competitiveness, Mr. Nikos Dendias, has noted following an inter-ministerial meeting.

“Greece has the right to legislate as a sovereign country. We are seeking an honest dialogue on energy costs. Whoever disagrees may appeal to European Courts,” the minister remarked.

His comments come amid negotiations on a number of issues that could reduce energy costs for industry, such as a measure offering consumers lower rates in exchange for their willingness to exit and enter the power system as required by demands on the supply network; a retroactive reduction of natural gas price levels through a return of profits at DEPA, the public gas company; as well as the reduction of a special consumption tax (EFK) imposed on fuel and electricity.

The president at SEV, the Hellenic Association of Industrialists, Mr. Theodoros Fessas, remarked that interventions already made to reduce labor costs were more than adequate, while adding that SEV had not asked for further cuts on this front. He was responding to a journalist’s question on labor market revisions.

However, SEV’s chief did note that non-wage costs, such as high labor taxation, were having a negative effect. “But this is something being paid by the entire economy, and employer contributions are being gradually reduced,” Mr. Fessas said. “Also, the labor minister is considering a further reduction of between 1% and 1.5%.”