Unable to pay the cost of electricity or a doubled property tax that is put electric bills, the power is being turned off to about 1,000 Greek households every day, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) has acknowledged, with arrearages at more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.56 billion) at the end of 2012.
Crushed by pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions demanded by international lenders in return for bailout loans, many Greeks are unable to afford monthly expenses have been cutting down even on food and other necessities.
PPC data showed that some 700,000 customers had had their debts rearranged with new payment plans by the end of last year, up from 400,000 at the end of 2011 but the agency expects the problem to get worse. Power is not being turned off to government agencies that owe millions of euros nor reportedly to big companies who haven’t paid as the government is fearful that could lead to more jobs being lost.
There are growing lines at PPC offices daily with people anxiously trying to arrange payment plans. The doubled property tax imposed by former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos in 2011 was supposed to be for one year only but has continued. Some customers are asking for their power to be reconnected if they pay part of the bill.
When the plan began two years ago, labor unions representing PPC workers directed them not to turn off power but now they are doing so, having given up their protest. The agency said some customers get their power restored not long after it’s turned off.
The Council of State has banned the disconnection of houses for not paying the property charge through the PPC bill but the agency’s computers can’t distinguish if the bill has been paid for electricity but not for the property tax or vice versa which means customers have to pay in full.