At least some good times are apparently about to come for households in Hungary. The threat of spending Christmas without electricity or gas is about to be suspended for customers of E.ON and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has announced that the planned 10 per cent drop in power prices must be applied to district heating as well.
E.ON said on Wednesday: “With the holiday season arriving the E.ON Group decided that it will suspend cutting off service between 20 December and 7 January for those who are behind on their payments.” It said the preferential treatment will be available only for the firm’s household customers who are in direct contract with E.ON, thus excluding corporate customers and those whose energy is originally from E.ON but via a smaller intermediary company.
Families living in district-heated homes should see some relief as well. While last week a cabinet communique was only about a 10 per cent reduction in household gas and electricity prices as of 1 January, Orbán told a press conference in Salgótarján on Monday that district-heating bills also must fall by at least 10 per cent from the same date.
Higher share of living costs
He said the 10 per cent decline is the first step in a longer process, adding that in Hungary the proportion of living costs in relation to salaries is particularly high compared to the Western European average. Orbán stressed that although the price cut may erode profit for gas and electricity sector investors, the economic crisis has made equal burden-sharing an absolute necessity.
With the exception of E.ON, such investors were unavailable for comment. E.ON told the left-leaning daily Népszabadság: “We booked losses of HUF 40 billion (EUR 141.13 million) since 2008 and this could increase further. We invested HUF 433 billion (EUR 1.53 billion) in Hungary in the past decade, but as a result of the cabinet’s measures we do not have money left for additional developments.”