Фото: Бојан Блажевски

The list of electricity subsidies beneficiaries in North Macedonia should be expanded to also include families with low incomes, families with only one family member employed, but also the unemployed and the workers made redundant. At the moment, this right for monthly support in the amount of MKD1 000 is only given to around 30 000 people that are receiving the social benefit and are part of the so-called Energy poverty group.

In order for the list to be expanded, previous legal amendments are necessary, including analyses, but also the introduction of protective mechanisms that will assure that the money from the state budget will be used for the exact purpose – to cover part of the electricity expenditures. Previously, this control mechanism didn’t exist i.e. the assets were simply transferred on the bank accounts of people who are part of the vulnerable group of citizens and they could use the money for any reason.

These are the recommendations of the Energy and Water Services Regulatory Commission (ERC) which also informed Meta.mk that the negotiations with the government, the ministries of labor and social policy, economy, and the syndicates for defining the legal amendments are underway. This will mean the introduction of new rules in the payment of assets for energy poverty and by the end of the year, something substantial might be expected to occur regarding this issue.

“Our proposal is to increase the scope of people that will receive energy benefit and not be limited only to 30 000 social beneficiaries. There are citizens that cannot pay their electricity bills and they also need to be helped. This group also includes those living with 25 000 – 30000 MKD a month, as is the minimal wage, the redundant workers, the families with only one employee and similar categories. At the same time, it matters that the assets go directly to the electricity provider from the bank account that will benefit the energy system’s liquidity. This will have to be worked upon additionally because a large number of electricity meters are registered on other people’s names and not the beneficiary at the given address. The option of providing electricity vouchers is also at play. The institutions are interested and we shall push the matter forward, said ERC’s President Marko Bislimovski for Meta.mk. He also said that the possibility of increasing the sum is also under consideration.

The status of energy impoverished persons refers to those who have no assets to pay the costs for energy services such as heating, light, use of electric devices and who are living in energy inefficient homes