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Slovak regulator rejects call for gas price hike

Slovakia’s state energy regulator (URSO) said on Tuesday it had rejected a request by gas monopoly Slovensky Plynarensky Priemysel (SPP) to raise its prices for households.

The ruling backs leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico’s fight against increases in electricity and gas prices. His government has promised to shield Slovaks from higher energy costs ahead of the country’s entry into the euro zone in 2009.

SPP, run by a consortium of Gaz de France and Germany’s E.ON through a combined 49% stake, delivered its proposal to URSO in July, with media reporting it had asked for up to a 28% price increase. „The office (URSO), after examination of submitted documents, has determined that the regulated subject (SPP) has not satisfactorily justified a significant change of economic variables and has not backed it up with relevant arguments,” URSO wrote in a statement.

SPP was not available for immediate comment. The government stepped up pressure on utilities over energy costs this month, warning their western owners it may expropriate their property if they seek to overcharge people. Energy prices were one of the key factors driving inflation in Slovakia and elsewhere in Europe in recent months. (Reuters)