Fabian Demicoli

Gas Distributors Protest Outside Parliament

 Gas Distributors, members of the GRTU, earlier this afternoon silently protested outside Parliament just as members of Parliament were reconvening for their afternoon session over the Arriva debacle with large Banners carrying the GRTU Logo and reading ‘Toholqux Arriva ohra Froga wahda bizzejjed din is-sena"

 

The Gas Distributors members of GRTU are so upset at the current situation, where despite the fact that a multiflag operation has been put in place for a month, discussions which were to be held with the suppliers are at a standstill. The dominant market player Liquigas seems to have decided on a position whereby although it communicates with GRTU on behalf of the Distributors it is staying away from meetings concerning the issue. This is rather strange after taking due consideration that prior to 18th October 2011 Liquigas and GRTU held meetings every week with this particular supplier.

How can a supplier operate with the Distributors if it fails to discuss with them? Liquigas have no right to do this. They are in breach of their contractual obligations. Gas Distributors will not succumb to such treatment. Government must realise that what existed for the last fifty years, is without doubt the best distribution system for this small island of ours. We continue to insist that this system is one which caters for all the sectors of the population anywhere in Malta and Gozo, from an old lady who lives in the fourth floor to a person with disability who lives in the first floor. What the new market players want today will increase the cost of gas cylinders to the public in general. They want the public to pay additionally for the service. They want the old lady to pay someone to go and get her cylinder or is served however at an over the moon price. That is where they want to make their money from. They call this additional service. Maybe these major players can put our mind at rest that what has been happening in nearby Sardegna and Capri and also Sorrento, where prices hit the Euro 32 for gas cylinders will not happen in Malta.

This is how they expect to make money…riding on people's back. So is competition called competition when prices for a product explode just because there are now two suppliers in the market?!. God forbid that Gas, being an essential commidity is relegated to the tune of the ‘Mars Choclate Bar' which can be bought at ten different prices from ten different places. If this price is no longer established by MRA hell will break loose and at the end the consumers is to lose.

That is why we strongly believe that the way things are going the Government of the day is slowly but step by step working on establishing ARRIVA 2, this time in the gas sector. ARRIVA 2 based on the concept of the word "competition" which would eventually mean that John, the public, pays through his nose for a gas cylinder. As if we have not seen what privitisation results were! Is The public better off? Or is the suppier better off?

The gas distributors out there in the market hope that Government works on a solution which is one system, ‘multiflag' operating in this market. Any thing beyond this, means that Government is being dictated by those who have pocket full of money and has decided to throw the small self employed distributors and the consumers to the end gutter.

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