Gas subdistributors await definitions on refunds for cold zones

Gas subdistributors await definitions on refunds for cold zones
Gas subdistributors await definitions on refunds for cold zones

By La Verdad Group Editorial Staff

Since January, the national government has stopped payment to distributors of the refunds required by the execution of the regime provided for by Law 25,565 of the Cold Zone, the program created in the ’90s and expanded in 2021, according to which natural gas users in the southern part of the country pay a lower rate for living in a region with low temperatures.

Since, as a result of the regulations, distributors sell the cheapest gas to homes, the system provides that the State will then reimburse the companies for a part of the gas price. This refund is paid with funds collected by a trust administered by the Treasury Palace, whose transfers have been inactive since January. The brake on payments put more than 40 sub-distributors that supply small towns throughout the country in check.

The reimbursement scheme through the trust ensures that the State does not have to pay with its own funds to subsidize gas rates in areas with low temperatures, solved, in part, through a charge included in the rates (5% of the gas price) paid by all natural gas users in the country.

Now, under the premise of first carrying out audits, the commitments of all the trusts managed by the National Government were no longer met. In this way, the return of the Cold Zone to the entire distribution segment was stopped, which includes the distributors Camuzzi Gas del Sur, Camuzzi Gas Pampeana, Cuyana, Ecogas, Gasnor, Litoral Gas and more than 40 sub-distributors in the country.

According to the Institute of Argentine Gas Subdistributors (ISGA), if payments for the Cold Zone are not released in 60 days, they must stop offering the service. In March, the subdistributors presented a letter to the Secretary of Energy, Eduardo Rodríguez Chirillo, requesting that the reimbursement of the Cold Zone trust be resumed.

In retrospect, the last payment that the companies received was at the end of February and corresponded to the month of December, since the refund mechanism takes about 60 days.

On this topic, José Luis Kelly, president of the Institute of Gas Subdistributors of Argentina (ISGA), told Grupo La Verdad that “the cold zone regime, which is the discount on all residential category users, of 50 % or 30% according to the lists that Enargas sends us, the cooperatives have been applying it since 2021 and we are receiving their refund about 60 days later. But in the month of March a resolution was issued by presidential decree that established that this mechanism would pass into the hands of the Ministry of Economy and no longer Energy, which interrupted the return of these refunds since the month of February, that is, since What was deducted in January was not returned to us, and from then on until now.

“The concern from the moment was to communicate with all the organizations that we could and from energy and they told us that it was an economic issue, that they could no longer do anything, thus leaving us a bit orphaned in the resolution,” he expanded, while expressing: ” Now things began to move, the national media raised the information and now, unofficially, it is said that the Ministry of Economy took action on the matter and in the coming days they would be making the restitution of at least half of the amounts owed.

«If this did not happen, because it has not happened until now, the sub-distributors would enter an insurmountable bankruptcy because the discount we are making is around 33 to 40% of our total billing and the cost of our gas, which we have to pay without applying These discounts represent a cost that is impossible to overcome. This is what set off all the alarms,” Kelly concluded.

«For now, the continuity of the area is ratified, which in the original basic law was scheduled to disappear. That was to return to all users in the country no longer receiving the benefit and having to pay for gas what it is really worth. This must be taken into account because it could disappear,” he stated.

Meanwhile, regarding our city, he clarified: “Junín users could pay the same as in CABA or the suburbs in residential rates.”

The Cold Zones project became law in June 2021 when it was approved in the Senate with 52 affirmative votes, 12 negative votes and no abstentions, and will promote a reduction in gas rates for municipalities in Buenos Aires and Santa Fe, Córdoba. , Mendoza, San Juan, San Luis and Salta.

In principle, there were going to be 7 districts of the fourth section of Buenos Aires included in the benefits, but in the end there were 19. That is to say, the residents of Alberti, Bragado, Carlos Casares, Carlos Tejedor, Chacabuco, Chivilcoy, Florentino Ameghino, General Arenales, General Pinto, General Viamonte, General Villegas, Hipólito Yrigoyen, Junín, Leandro N. Alem, Lincoln, Nueve de Julio, Pehuajó, Rivadavia and Trenque Lauquen began to pay between 30 and 50% less on their natural gas bill.

Residents of the areas contemplated in the project, which register very low temperatures during winter, have a decrease of between 30% and 50% in gas bills, according to the economic situation of each sector, according to one of the articles. of the initiative.

Reduces gas rates in the included areas by around 50% for beneficiaries of the Universal Child Allowance (AUH) and the Pregnancy Allowance, non-contributory pensions and retirees – up to 4 minimum wages -, social monotax, users who receive unemployment insurance and employees of private homes.

This benefit is also available to those who are exempt from paying ABL or local taxes of the same nature or those who have a lifetime pension as veterans of the South Atlantic War. Regarding the rest of the residential users, the differential rate implies a 30% reduction in the corresponding gas bill.
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