Ukraine's premier slams governors over "horrible" energy debt

Iran Materials 16 June 2006 10:48 (UTC +04:00)

(RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's prime minister on Thursday criticized regional and local authorities for letting a "horrible" debt accumulate in the utilities sector following a surge in natural gas prices earlier this year.

"Natural gas payments for the past five months are in a horrible state," Yuriy Yekhanurov told a gathering of Cabinet ministers and governors. He said the outstanding debt totaled an estimated 10.5 billion hryvnas, or $2.1 billion, reports Trend.

In an effort to stabilize the utilities sector, the government has allocated 2 billion hryvnas ($400 million) to meet past arrears and to compensate for heat and water price hikes, Yekhanurov said.

In January, Ukraine's two main natural gas suppliers - Russia and Turkmenistan - set their prices at $95 and $50 per 1,000 cu m, respectively. The move prompted local utility companies to raise gas and electricity tariffs for the public by 25%, and they plan to double the current rates in July.