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Bill Likely To Push Up Phone, Power & Gas Charges

Telephone, electricity and gas prices are tipped to rise with the likely passing of the Local Government (Rating) Bill, says National's Local Government spokesperson, Alec Neill.

"Consumers will be hard hit by a plan to allow local authorities to impose rates on utilities - all essential services - which are both under and over the ground. These utilities will obviously need to pass on any extra costs to consumers.

"I called for an amendment which would allow utilities infrastructure to be exempted from rates, but this has been rejected by the Government.

"Some gas and electricity companies are saying retail prices could jump by as much as ten percent to cover extra costs imposed by these rates. This will impact on all consumers, but particularly on low income people who can least afford it.

"I urged the Government to reconsider its position but it wouldn't listen. Considering the importance of these utility networks in delivering essential services, they should have been given a statutory exemption from rates.

"Now, everyone will suffer. It will become a money-go-round which will see consumers paying more and utility companies reluctant to upgrade their networks because rating will be done on the valuation of their assets," says Mr Neill.


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