Serbia hikes electricity prices 9.5 percent

BELGRADE, Mar 2, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serbian power monopoly Elektroprivreda Serbia (EPS) announced on Wednesday a 9.5 percent increase in electricity prices to boost income and repair capacities destroyed in NATO bombing last year.

One kilowatt of electricity in Serbia sells at below $0.01.

The prices had last been hiked by 9.5 percent in August 1999.

The company said the price hikes were needed to complete reconstruction of power facilities damaged or destroyed in NATO's March-to-June bombing last year and to finance regular annual overhaul of its capacities.

Immediately after the air war, EPS said a third of its grid had been destroyed, mainly the transmission lines.

The electricity price hikes, approved by the Serbian Energy Ministry, came only a week after the Serbian government almost doubled fuel prices.

The government has pledged full price and currency stability for the year, promising to take care of the standards of living of ordinary Serbs.

It was not immediately clear how the latest price increases would affect the official monthly inflation record.

Serbia reported a zero inflation in January, while independent economists said it was close to 3.5 percent.

Original article