Pres. sends fast track power bill to congress

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, August 26, 2004
Ecuador's President Lucio Gutiérrez sent a fast track power bill to congress Wednesday, which if approved would guarantee that hydroelectric generators get paid for their power, the government news service reported Thursday. The economy and finance ministry would assure that companies bringing new hydroelectric capacity on line would be paid by distributors, on the condition that the prices are below the reference price established by power sector regulator Conelec. The guarantee would have immediate effect and last through 2025. The bill includes the creation of power sector development fund Fonsel, which would set up a trust fund of up to US$500mn underwritten by the issue of 12-year sovereign bonds. The central bank would manage the trust fund. Distributors would pay all incomes from power sales into the trust fund and would cede their rights to demand power payments to the fund. Meter fraud in any public service - electric power, natural gas, water, oil and derivatives and telecommunications - would earn 6-18 months of jail time, and a fine ranging between 10 and 100 times the minimum salary. The hard line bill envisages jail terms of 8-16 years and fines of US$1,000-16,000 for those who destroy, damage or interrupt the distribution of natural gas, oil and derivatives, or who stop production on oil fields. Being a fast track bill, congress has 30 days in which to discuss it. Gutiérrez already sent a power sector reform bill to congress in June.

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