Articles

Gas Bills. Ouch, They Say

In Economy on August 29, 2007 by Petr Bokuvka

Death and taxes are the only 100-percent sure things in life, Americans say.

Czechs could add one more: five- to ten-percent increase in natural gas prices twice a year. It has been announced a few weeks ago that the increase will indeed be ten percent as of January 1, 2008. Again. There is a regulatory body that *regularly* gives its approval.

There is absolutely nothing that the vast majority of Czechs could do… They use natural gas to cook and heat their apartments. There is absolutely no competition. You can not pick a cheaper provider because there is only one set of pipes. About a decade ago some analysis said it would be cheaper to use electricity for heating. So some people switched to that. But the electricity bills have gone up, too.

Czechs are prisoners of energy companies. Every year you can read their annual reports that say what the net profits are. Most of the companies were privatized a while ago. Not so long ago the state still held its majority of shares in these energy companies – and politicians preferred huge profits to satisfied voters.

Over the last say three years I have heard of ten products/servies whose price skyrocketed and it was explained that “the prices have to get closer to those of the same products/services in the EU”. But the salaries did not move a bit. The inflation was always higher that the wage increase for most people.

Let’s not be mistaken: my philosophy is that everybody is responsible for their own destiny. If you hate your salary, ask for raise. If you still hate it, quit your job. The thing is that all Czechs are equal when it comes to a gas heating knob… 

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