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“The government will have to intervene with a provision on installments and secondments”

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Fabrizio Ghidini - Photo by Ansa FotoFabrizio Ghidini – Photo by Ansa Foto

At the microphones of iNews24, Fabrizio Ghidini of the Energy department of Federconsumatori, on the expensive bill.

The final issue raised concerns smart workers. According to a study by the Smart Work Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano School of Management, due to high bills, those who work from home spend 400 euros more per year. According to the study, however, this saves around 1,000 euros in transport costs. In recent months, many traders have been forced to close their businesses, many families are struggling to pay their electricity and gas bills. What is Federconsumatori’s photograph?
“Federconsumatori’s photography is decidedly dark. We have just come from over a year of electricity and gas increases and now much more substantial increases are expected than families and businesses have already experienced over the past period. With the bills coming in the next few months and at the start of the new year, the economic and social situation will be even more burdensome. Specifically, smart workers have additional costs and increase. But there are companies that have given economic rewards that have taken into account the costs of heating, lighting or even canteens”;

What reports arrive at Federconsumatori?
“The requests sent to our branches throughout Italy number in the thousands a day. There are people who cannot afford to pay the bills, who ask us for information and support for the payment. Others who receive letters from managers who announce future increases and ask us if it is legitimate”;

He is?
“As you know, on August 9, the government issued a decree that suspended unilateral changes until April 30, 2023, but we know that infringement procedures have been opened”;

What are the other reports?
“Consumers receive phone calls about proposals to change the economic terms of contracts and ask us if it’s legitimate. And it is not. In recent weeks, we have received many phone calls, but the phenomenon has intensified in recent days. I expect them to increase further. The more people care and look at the invoices, the more problems arise, from anticipated contract changes, to people who are abandoned by their managers and placed in other markets”;

And the heaters haven’t been turned on yet…
“The season has undoubtedly helped so far, but the increases in electricity and gas prices had already taken place. On average, already today there is talk of doubling compared to a year ago We will see the biggest costs at the end of the year and the beginning of 2023″;

Have the measures put in place so far by the government been the only ones possible?
“No, they weren’t the only possible ones. It would certainly have helped an agreement at European level which cannot be reached. Two governments, first Conte and then Draghi, deployed truly enormous economic resources. However, I fear that in the face of the expected increases, the figures we are talking about informally these days are insufficient. And I think that the new government must intervene not only in terms of economic aid, but also of secondments”;

How?
“We ask that they be suspended from this winter until next spring. We must also intervene with a provision on installments, which already existed and which was not renewed in June. Next, the regulatory framework will have to be reviewed quickly. What emerges is the absence of rules and the presence of opportunistic behavior and a poorly regulated free market”;

Are you talking speculation?
“Exactly. There are companies that are not serious or unable to meet their supply commitments. The energy market needs to be reformed. We hope that what we have seen in recent years will serve lesson to fix a broken system”;

The price cap hypothesis in Europe is wavering again.
“The deal is not on the horizon, so the ball is thrown back to the national level. An important rule to use is the so-called electricity and gas cost decoupling. This would be an important reform that would calm electricity prices. Today they are linked even when the latter is produced from renewable sources”;

A topic discussed, in addition to that of the distribution of prices that you mentioned, is that of the budget gap. But during the election campaign, the parties that won the elections had different ideas. The League was in favor, Forza Italia and Fratelli d’Italia were not.
“The new government will have to decide whether or not to make a fiscal shift. He will have to see what is at hand and decide if these resources are sufficient. I think that faced with a situation that is bringing families and the entire economy to its knees, the budget gap cannot be ruled out, if necessary. Then there are more concrete measures”;

For instance?
“Those of the reform of the gas market. We have been calling for the establishment of a register of sellers for a long time, today it is chaos. In Italy there are 800 of electricity and gas. The market is not controlled and there are people who are not serious. Already regulating and putting guarantees would be very important for consumers. Then there is the age-old question, which we have been dragging on for 10-15 years, of the protected market and the free market. The first has been extended again, for both electricity and gas, until December 31, 2023: but what will happen then? We believe that the protected market should be maintained, because it has cheaper prices”;

What advice would you give consumers to save money?
“Certainly, using electricity, gas and water more rationally is useful for lowering the value of the bill and there is also a positive impact from an environmental point of view, but it is not decisive. In severe winters, consumption cannot be reset. There are families who live in an almost hospitable state, with health problems and who must maintain a certain constant temperature in summer and winter, or who have energy-consuming machines used to allow treatment. The subject of savings is good but not all problems can be solved”;

What advice would you rather give to citizens to deal with expensive bills?
“If there are difficulties paying the bills, don’t wait, but contact a consumer association to start an installment payment plan and keep the specter of billboards away. Stop signing telephone contracts on complicated subjects, where a wrong choice can cost hundreds or thousands of euros per year. Be well informed before making energy choices, especially in a very complicated situation like this, where it is difficult to make a well-considered decision, because things are constantly changing”.

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