Variations in gas subsidies raised

Citizens query discrepancies in price and distribution centres across emirates, as well as electricity costs to second homes.

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The UAE energy minister has pledged negotiations with all of the country’s gas suppliers to regulate distribution.

“We have been asked to set a strategy,” said minister Suhail Al Mazrouei at the Federal National Council on Tuesday.

“If all the companies agree to negotiations, we will raise our proposal to the cabinet.”

Mr Al Mazrouei’s response came to FNC member Hamad Al Rahoomi, Dubai, who asked about variations in the cost of subsidised gas across the country and why certain emirates lacked distribution centres.

“This question has been asked by members of society who are affected by price discrepancies. The constitution says that citizens should be treated equally.”

Some people are resorting to transferring cylinders between emirates in their own cars on a daily basis.

“This is illegal and can put peoples’ lives at risk,” said the minister.

Moreover, beneficiaries of subsidised commodities should acquire gas only from their own emirate.

He said there were alternative solutions, such as using electric ovens and transmitting gas through pipes, a system that is in place in Abu Dhabi.

He also said that there was no comprehensive subsidy system in the UAE because distribution policies are set by individual companies.

Adnoc has subsidised fuel for Emiratis for Dh150 in Abu Dhabi and Dh70 in the other emirates they supply gas to “but the company does not have stations in Dubai”.

“This commodity is bought from the global market and Adnoc does not have enough to distribute to all emirates.”

Dubai already has prices in place, adding that they were reasonable compared with other countries.

RAK member Salem Al Shehhi asked why locals had to pay higher electricty costs at secondary private properties and why they could not pay the same rate in all their private homes.

Mr Al Mazrouei said the Federal Electricity & Water Authority had already been offering major subsidies on water and electricity services worth Dh1 billion a year “from its own revenues and budget, which is a lot of money for a federal authority”.

Electricity for primary addresses is subsidised by more than 50 per cent. Houses for other wives are considered primary addresses as well.

Houses that are not for commercial use are also taken into account, but he said it was not possible to open the door for all properties, such as holiday houses and farms, because this became a matter of luxury and not a necessity.

Mr Al Shehhi said that the cost for extra assets was a huge burden that “could reach up to Dh60,000 and cannot be paid through funds”.

“We are responsible for subsidising basics, not extra luxuries. We have to balance between support and revenues.”

“We subsidise 50 per cent of delivery transmission charges. We don’t want to fall short in the basics to fund the extras.”

Nevertheless, people who ask for exceptions do have their cases assessed.

hdajani@thenational.ae