The Government accumulates power to freeze and even lower gas rates

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Through an Enargas measure sanctioned this Thursday, you can determine the values ​​according to a criterion of “justice and reasonableness”

In addition to freezing rates for six months and banning power cuts to debtors of public service companies, the government is now deepening the power to regulate the price of gas that consumers must pay from now on.

It did so by repealing a norm that had established the management of Mauricio Macri that allowed the transfer to the invoices of the value of the gas that the distribution companies buy at the wellhead.

This is Resolution 72/2019 that established a “Transfer Method to gas price tariffs and General Procedure for the Calculation of Accumulated Daily Differences”.

It had been sanctioned in February last year and forced the entity to approve gas prices contracted by the auction mechanism. It was annulled through the sanction of another resolution, 27, which will allow the National Gas Regulatory Entity (Enargas) to have more power over those costs that usually arise from an auction between producers and marketers and which later become part of the fee paid by consumers.

Beyond the content of the new regulation, specifically, it allows the entity to add power and to define whether the price agreed between companies is adequate or if it should be less. In other words, the agency in charge of the financial controller, Federico Bernal, will have an additional mechanism to freeze the rates or define a drop in values ​​under the argument of applying an “analysis of justice and reasonableness”.

An excuse disguised as a measure that will allow this official closely related to Vice President Cristina Kirchner and former collaborator of Julio De Vido, to have a strong interference in the value of the price of gas since its extraction.

In this sense, the new Resolution 27/20 is part of a review process of everything acted in this market by the previous government of Cambiemos and, from its content, it is ensured that the repealed rule “limited Enargas to analyze contracting in the sale of gas by the distributors “.

The criticism, according to the official view, realizes that this rule enabled an almost automatic pass to gas price rates and made it impossible for the regulatory body to make a reasonableness judgment in each particular case on the contractual formation of the price incorporated into the rate.

For the current Enargas authorities, the substantial change in the macroeconomic variables and the need to weigh case by case with technical criteria that are not pre-configured so that they surround an analysis of the gas price and the reasonableness of the rate judgment , are sufficient reasons to repeal Resolution No. 72/19.

Through a statement, Bernal defended the new strategy of the government of the Front of All, understanding that it is “a fundamental step for Enargas to regain its true role as a regulatory body in accordance with Law 24.076, relinquishing its actions regarding gas prices in the rate table according to the doctrine of the Supreme Court ruling of August 2016

That year, the country’s highest court of law, unanimously, decided to repeal two previous resolutions that had been questioned by associations defending the rights of gas users and ordered that for the fixing of tariffs, the prior public hearing is for compliance required.

It also instructed companies to roll back the values ​​to those in force prior to the increase ordered in 2016 by the resolutions that were invalidated at that time.

For Bernal, having maintained Resolution 72 was incompatible with the tariff issue according to the indications of the Solidarity Law and the entire current regulatory legal framework. “I want to clarify that its repeal is carried out without prejudice to any responsibilities or consequences that may be observed after the revisions that we will apply to said regulations,” added the Kirchner official.

According to the interpretation of the current Enargas authorities, the repealed rule limited Enargas’ regulatory will to the mechanism established by the then Ministry of Energy, self-limiting its powers and duties inherent to the legally assigned competence, which is mandatory.

The analysis of the price of gas to be transferred to the tariff is an essential element in the process of determining it and in preparing the reasonableness judgment of the tariff.“the statement said.

It is interpreted that said “fairness and reasonableness” analysis that the entity must carry out is mandatory and “cannot be ignored in the process of passing the gas price at the wellhead rate, since the rate is not the result of an agreement of parts, but it is an administrative act that corresponds to dictate to Enargas “.

By way of conclusion, Bernal pointed out that “this entity, and by the powers that were instructed to us by the President of the Nation through the Solidarity Law and Decree 278 (of Intervention), has once again had the premise of adequately protecting consumer rights, fair and reasonable tariffs, as well as equally fair and reasonable gas prices. “

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