Fabian Demicoli

Liquigas arrogance has no limits


GRTU categorically rebuts claims by
Liquigas Malta that the GRTU is somehow backing or supporting a cartel of
23 Gas Distributors and will hold Liquigas responsible for damages sustained.

Liquigas Malta has no limits to
arrogance. It entered a market where an efficient system of distribution
existed already. A system that was and still is based entirely on consumer
benefit and that has been in place for over forty years.

Conveniently in October 2008, a few
months after the previous general election, Liquigas was served with a silver
platter by virtue of the tailor made Legal Notice 249 of 2008, that established
the Gas Market Regulations from which Liquigas benefitted to the detriment of
the Gas Distributors who were left in the dark.

The 1992 agreement, which was
signed between the Regulator and the Gas Distributors, is still valid. The
Report issued by the Director General of the Office for Competition within the
Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) has not been confirmed
and is still pending before the Competition and Consumer Appeals Tribunal in
Court.  Consequently it has neither been confirmed nor refused.

The territorial
exclusivity remains in place, as it is not Liquigas who decides rights or
wrongs in this country. The notion of territorial gas distribution is as out
dated as consumer rights are, which means not at all. The Gas Distributors will
continue to make sure that the service to our end consumers is provided in the
best way possible, despite the fact that everyday Liquigas tries to create new
stumbling blocks to the livelihood of these Gas Distributors and to the service
that the Maltese consumer enjoys.

The Gas Distributor agreement was
signed with the Regulator primarily to guarantee an efficient gas distribution
service even to those consumers who live in remote areas, as well as to
sensitive consumers including the elderly who face several flights of stairs to
reach their home without the benefit of an elevator.

Liquigas is aware that if it
succeeds in eliminating the Gas Distributors, then it would be free to operate
a monopoly.

GRTU refers Maltese consumers to
the fact that in March 2010, Liquigas SpA in Italy was fined 17.1 million
Euro for collusion with two other companies. Together they created a cartel for
ten years in the island of Sardinia, from 1995 to 2005. In those years the
price of a 12 kg cylinder in Sardinia rose to €32.00 per cylinder for a home
delivery. This is an undeniable fact confirmed by the EU's highest Court and
which Liquigas cannot deny.

GRTU always questioned who
shouldered the responsibility for the due diligence exercise prior to
giving the green light for a foreign investor to come into the market and
arbitrarily try to dictate how consumers are to be treated, and at whatprice.

The assertion made by Mr. Roberto
Cappelluto, Liquigas Malta CEO, that there exists a GRTU backed cartel, is
unconfirmed by the competent Tribunal and therefore presently unfounded in fact
and in law.

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