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Moldova Increases Energy Prices Again

Utility prices will rise by 14 percent
Utility prices will rise by 14 percent
The Moldovan government promised to help low-income people pay their bills after announcing a 14 percent raise in utility prices, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

The country's pro-Western government pledged on May 14 to give compensation to the poorest Moldovans to help them cope with the increased prices for natural gas and electricity.

It is the second such price hike for utilities in Moldova in four months. The previous one, in January, was a 25 percent increase in the price of gas that forced the government to ask the West and international institutions for help to compensate those hardest hit by the increases.

Moldova depends almost entirely on Gazprom for its energy. The Russian gas giant has in recent years steadily increased its prices for countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States to bring them closer to the market prices paid in Western Europe.

The new prices were criticized by Moldovan trade unions, which said on May 14 that most people could not afford to pay the bills before the latest increase.

But the country's sole distributor of Russian gas, Moldovagaz -- in which Gazprom is a majority shareholder -- said the new prices are still not high enough to make the company competitive and to allow it to pay its debt to Gazprom.

Victor Parlicov, the head of Moldovan energy authority ANRE, promised on May 14 that this will be the last increase in energy prices this year. The new prices are valid from April through December.