The Malta Independent 3 February 2023, Friday
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Maltese people should be given back what was stolen from them - Grech on ARMS overcharging

Sabrina Zammit Monday, 5 December 2022, 18:09 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Maltese people should be given back what was stolen from them, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said on overcharging on water and electricity bills.

The Opposition said today is the last chance for the government to decide to give back what has been stolen by overcharging since 2014. If this is not done, the PN will be presented a class action in court.

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After the motion was verbally introduced by PN MP Mark Anthony Sammut, Grech said that the PN was always on the forefront when it came to the energy sector.

“The government’s decision to invest in a second inter-connector shows how much the PN government, back then was on the right track,” he said.

He said that the Labour Party back in 2012 had promised to decrease the energy bills, but facts show that consumers have been repeatedly overcharged by ARMS Ltd, the company responsible for issuing bills.

In 2018, then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had admitted that families and businesses were being overcharged but said that “it was a legal anomaly”. This overcharging meant that consumers were paying much more than they should be doing.

A court judgment in July had ruled that the bills were higher than they should be, prompting the PN to plan for a class action. It has invited consumers to join in to retrieve what is theirs by right, Grech said.

“They knew what they were doing, everything was planned”, he said.

“The government is obliged to do justice and give back what is owed to the people, nothing less and nothing more”, he said.

We want to keep the consumer at the centre of our energy strategy - Energy minister on utility bills 

We want to keep the consumer at the centre of our energy strategy, said Energy minister Miriam Dalli in Parliament on Monday.

Dalli said that the original legal amendments for the ARMS billing method was introduced back in 2009 by the PN itself.

She said that back then in the same year, the PN had increased the utility bills and gave back the public a mere entitlement of five bulbs. 

In comparison, the Labour government has made good decisions in order to avoid a huge increase in cost of living, she said.

If It weren’t for the government's “wise” and “risky” choices the country would have a 14% deficit increase and the cost of living would have increased to €25 a week rather than €10.

Additionally since 2009, the government has also managed to slash electricity bills by 25% “using the same billing system which was introduced by the PN itself”, along the years.

 

“We have worked for stability for our country and Maltese companies and families know that when there is a challenge the government will always be behind them," Dalli said.

PL MP Michael Farrugia said that unlike the opposition leader he was not going to “engage in a long premeditated discussion that doesn’t seem to stop”, but rather he was going to address the problems that the country was facing right now.

Farrugia said that if the opposition wanted to speak about scandals, the list also goes on for when it was in government, such as that concerning the buying of fuel and the PWSC. Additionally back then Nationalist government had also increased the electricity bills “heartlessly” but Enemata continued to register increased debt one year after another.

Farrugia continued by saying that Malta was one of the few countries who managed to keep the energy prices stable even during the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

He reminded that the government is so committed to continue this, that it has already dedicated €600 million in funds for the same aspect for next year, “yet this is not important for the PN”.

At the end of the sitting, the Opposition's motion was rejected in the vote taken and a division was called. A formal vote will be taken on 19 December.

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