Economist Edward Scicluna believes that the threshold of consumption below which eco-reduction tariffs will apply are too low for 1-2 person families to reach – and since over half of these are pensioners, they have hardly any chance of benefiting.
Prof. Scicluna was asked by the General Workers’ Union and the Malta Union of Teachers to study the impact of the eco-reduction schemes for water and electricity tariffs, a report which is scheduled to be released by the unions soon.
“My calculations show that the government’s assessment was based on completely wrong figures. They are quite wrong,” he told www.di-ve.com.
“The government needs to look at a more equitable spread to ensure that the eco-reduction can be feasibly attained.”
The government insists that 73 per cent of families will benefit from eco-reductions as their consumption is below the 1,700 unit per person threshold.
However, the unions are arguing that this average is based on the number of bills issued, and includes around 50,000 vacant houses and summer residences.
The Union Haddiema Maqghudin, however, does not believe that the threshold should be touched.
“The important thing is not to look at how many people would benefit from the eco-reduction based on their current consumption patterns – but to see how many would change their consumption behaviour to be able to benefit.
“This is what it is all about. Tampering with the thresholds now would just benefit those who use – waste – more,” UHM general secretary Gejtu Vella said. In the meantime, Prof. Scicluna confirmed that he was 1 of 2 experts approached by the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development chairman Sonny Portelli, and asked to do the economic and social impact assessment on the proposed tariffs.
However, he said, this had not yet been done and it appeared to have been “overtaken by events”.
UHM’s Gejtu Vella said that it would be wise to have an MCESD report but admitted that things had been moving too fast.
When contacted, Mr Portelli confirmed that no reports had yet been received by the MCESD, but he declined to comment further.