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CHISINAU, July 22. /TASS/. A protest rally against raising gas and electricity tariffs was held in the capital of Moldova on Wednesday. The action brought together about 500 supporters of the opposition Socialist Party, which held a picket in front of the National Energy Regulatory Agency (ANRE) building. They also marched to the government building, chanting "No to price increases," and "Thieves must be jailed!"
"People have no money to buy clothes for their children to send them to school. There is no money even for prime necessities. It’s not an alliance ‘For European Integration,’ but an alliance of thieves who must be jailed, and not sit in parliament, the government, ANRE and other state bodies," parliament member Ion Ceban told the rally participants. He said that the Socialist Party would continue protest actions.
Last week, ANRE approved raising electricity tariffs by an average of 30%, and natural gas tariffs — by 15%. Director of the state agency Sergiu Ciobanu told journalists that in the conditions of the Moldovan leu (MDL) devaluation, the tariff increases are inevitable and will continue.
The local energy suppliers that insisted on higher tariffs are nevertheless dissatisfied with the result. The Moldovan-Russian gas distribution company Moldovagaz had requested to raise tariffs by 51%, and the major electricity supplier Gas Natural Fenosa demanded that the tariffs should be doubled. Its CEO Silvia Radu said she would turn to court to defend the right to increase the prices. According to her, tariffs for imported energy resources had last time been revised in Moldova in 2012, when the dollar was worth 11.8 leu. Today, the U.S. dollar exchange rate exceeds 19 leu, so importers suffer losses, Radu said. However, the ANRE head says that "a sharp rise in energy tariffs is fraught with social upheaval in the country.".