JAMnews looked into why this is being carried out and the public’s reaction to it
Institutions in Abkhazia that are not paying for electricity are going to be cut off gradually from the electric grid. The authorities of the republic see this as a measure in the fight against unpaid dues for electricity.
In 2017, only 42 per cent of electricity debts in the country was collected, with overall electricity use reaching 300 million roubles [about USD 7.5 million]. The amount of unpaid utilities for previous years are in the billions.
According to Aslan Basaria, the head of Chernomorenergo, villages are the most problematic areas. Some of them either do not pay at all or only pay their accounts partially.
The residents of Atara village in Ochamchire district only paid 30 000 roubles over the past half year (about USD 450). Meanwhile, Chernomorenergo has carried out renovation projects to the amount of 4 million roubles (approximately USD 763 000).
Several other villages pay about the same amount, while the residents of Bagmaran village in Gulripshi district have paid nothing in the past year.
Large debts have also accrued by institutions. The Minister of Economy, Adgur Ardzinba, has given the order for the energy supply to be switched off for these institutions.
Moreover, Chernomorenergo will prepare a list of institutions that have not paid, including specific individuals, and will begin to publish their names on the internet.
Among the first institutions that have been included on the list is the National Library and the Sukhum Philarmonia.
The public has, for the most part, welcomed the effort, but has also called on Chernomorenergo to be transparent about several ‘shady’ deals.
“We need to hire large-shouldered [men], armed to the teeth and with whom people won’t have any desire to speak. And then we’ll see a result.”
“Maybe the most persistent non-payers should be shot so that the others will run to pay.”
“Doesn’t the minister want to publish a list of Chernomorenergo’s governmental purchases, which makes for a formidable sum? Where, how much, what and for what price? And moreover what it has rented out to Chernomorenergo at unbelievably low prices?”