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Protests against Higher Prices of Utilities Continue

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The civic initiative “Aman” has entered the second month of its protests against the higher prices of electricity and distance heating services, and the termination of the daily cheap electricity tariff for the week days. The activists of the initiative gather in protest every Tuesday, at 18:00 hours, at the Macedonia Gate (the triumphal arc in the centre of Skopje).

AMAN continues its regular protests last Tuesday (Photo: AMAN CI)AMAN continues its regular protests last Tuesday (Photo: AMAN CI)

“Aman” presented its demands which include the elimination of the billing line for engaged capacities of 33%, the restoration of the daily cheap tariff, termination of the new rulebook of the “Toplifikacija” heating utility company, for prices of electricity and distance heating to return to the 2008 levels, and prices of gasoline that will be adapted to the standards of living of Macedonian citizens.

The initiative also demands stop of privatization or recapitalization of the state-owned energy sector, and increased investments in sustainable and renewable energy projects.

In addition to Skopje, “Aman” activists hold regular protests in Bitola, Tetovo, Prilep, Kumanovo and Štip.

The initiative received support bz the “Solidarity” Left-wing Movement, and “Solidarity’s” members have been actively involved in Aman’s protests since the very beginning.

“We call the citizens to express their discontent with the indolence of the competent institutions and to defend the Constitution which defines Macedonia, in Article 1, as sovereign, independent, democratic and social state. Furthermore, in Article 8, the Constitution lists humanity, solidary and social justice as fundamental values of the constitutional order”, “Solidarity” says in its statement of support for Aman.

“Solidarity” appealed to the trade unions, civil associations, the workers, pensioners and intellectuals to join the protests and challenge the legitimacy of policies that lead to further impoverishment and alienation of the people.

“Aman’s” activists also face constant attacks. Since the start of the protests, the Government has constantly accused them of being led and working on instructions of the leading opposition party, the Social-Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM).

Also, the Government continued with its practice to respond to all civic initiatives and protests against its policies with counter-protests held by its own, loyal, organizations and initiatives. This time, we have the “Burnt by Privatization” („Изгор приватизација“) initiative, which holds parallel protests against the privatization of the power utility company by Austrian corporation EVN during the last SDSM’s term in power.

Earlier this week, on September 25, 2012, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Macedonia accused the Regulatory Commission for Energy that its decisions for termination of the cheap daily electricity tariff and the decision to allow increase of prices of electricity and distance heating  were adopted on basis of provisions that do not, in fact, exist in the Law on Energy.

“This is not a technical omission. This is fundamental mistake that directly undermines the rights of the citizens”, said Uranija Pirovska, Executive Director of the Helsinki Committee.

According to Pirovska, that situation causes a sense of legal insecurity and undermines the principle of predictability of legislation. She also accused the regulators that, in the process of adoption of the disputed documents, they didn’t take into account the need to balance the interests of the monopolistic utility companies with the rights of the consumers.

The Helsinki Committee presented its objections to the Regulatory Commission on September 26 and announced that, if the disputed decisions and documents were not corrected, it will file an initiative to challenge them at the Constitutional Court. (Source: CI AMAN/Macedonian Helsinki Committee/media reports)

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