During his first term in office Prime Minister Robert Fico and his nominee as head of the Regulatory Office for Network Industries (ÚRSO) Jozef Holjenčík introduced "regulatory racketeering" in Slovakia, according to independent MP Daniel Lipšic, the chairman of the New Majority (NOVA) party. Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, March 26 he said firms and households have needlessly paid hundreds of millions of euros annually in the form of fees imposed on electricity users.
"These fees, enacted by the government of Robert Fico in 2009, climbed to such amounts that companies closed their businesses in Slovakia. Four years ago, Prime Minister Fico introduced regulatory racketeering to carelessly racketeer not only firms but also common citizens," Lipšic said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.
According to calculations by Lipšic's party, Slovakia has the highest fees pertaining to electricity in the European Union, at €58 per megawatt hour. According to the party the EU average stands at €48. "Overall, businesses and households pay €340-700 million each year in fees linked to electricity. The competitiveness of the Slovak economy is worsening and firms are being shut down," NOVA’s Marcel Klimek stated. Lipšic called on Jozef Holjenčík to step down from the top post in the regulatory authority.
The Pravda daily reported on March 27 that U.S. Steel is still suing the Slovak Republic in spite of a memorandum signed between the two sides on March 26 that ensured the US firm would retain ownership of the steelworks in Košice. Under the previous government, led by Iveta Radičová, the regulatory office led by Holjenčík, a Smer nominee, introduced a new measure according to which the company had to pay full fees on energy it generates and consumes within its own plant. In 2011 the firm paid one-third. Both the opposition and businesses have criticised the measure, Pravda wrote.
Sources: SITA, Pravda
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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