This is going to be the mother of all electricity battles! the management of Greece’s state power company DEH ordered the electricity cut off in 20,000 Greek households for failing to have paid the ’emergency property tax’. The orders come into force as the 80-days deadline for paying the first installment of the tax has expired. As of Monday, Jan 16/2012, technicians from DEH or private companies assigned to fulfill this dutywill start cutting electricity in private households and commercial places. According to power company workers’ union GENOP-DEH, 50,000 orders for power cut offs have been already issued acros the country, 20,000 of them have been forwarded for immediate execution.
The technicians will start cutting the power in properties according to … “objective income criteria”. That’s is the electricity will be first cut off in households where the properties are located in so-called “value zones” with property worth more than 2,500 euro per square meter. If the DEH-subscriber ows an avarage middle-class house nextto a luxury villa in noble Kifissia, suburb of Northern Athens, both property owners are taxes with the same value zone.
Exempted from emergency property tax are very few social groups like people with heavy disabilities and long time jobless only.
The cut offs order have triggered a general mobilization by unions, civic movements and left parties.
GENOP-DEH has called the DEH-technicians to ignore the orders and hinder personnel of private companies to proceed to power cuts, as in some cases, DEH has hired private companies to execute such orders. “We’ll cut their hands off” union chairman Nikos Fotopoulos warned characteristically and added “No one should dare to touch the DEH counter of any low-income people who are unable to pay the emergency property tax.”
In Iraklio, Crete, the civic movement “Citizens Against the Debt”, the Workers’ Centre of Iraklio and even the major himself occupied the local DEH office on Monday morning in order to prohibit power cut offs. The first 400 orders have eebn issued for enterprises and not private households. The civic movement has published an emergency call number (mobile 6978.393868) for the case “someone in a neighborhood sees a DEH- or private company technician around.”
In Chania, members of PAME, the union of Greek Communist Party, are patrolling neighborhoods to prohibit power cut offs.
The mobilizations will continue.
According to GENOP-DEH, until now 250,000 electricity bills containing the first installment of the emergency property tax have not been paid.
In many cases citizens paid only for the electricity consumption and municipality fees but not the tax.
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger had declared in last autumn, that “power cut off for not paying taxes is not compatible with European law. Electricity is a public good and it can not be used as leverage to blackmail society.”
Greek taxpayers and lawyers associations have filled a caseat the Supreme Administrative Court complaining the measure of emergency property tax via electricity bills and without taking into consideration real income criteria is against the Greek Constitution. A court decision is expected around end January/beginning of February. Or not….