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Cuba goes after those stealing electricity in capital
[June 28, 2009]

Cuba goes after those stealing electricity in capital

Havana, Jun 28, 2009 (EFE via COMTEX) -- A corps of inspectors will pursue fraud in the consumption of electricity in Havana?s residential sector starting on July 1 as one of the measures implemented by Gen. Raul Castro?s government starting a month ago to save energy, the official Tribuna de La Habana newspaper reported Sunday.

The inspectors will go out in pairs through the streets and ?electric power cuts will be ? among the measures? that could be applied to families circumventing the service regulations, the newspaper said.

Prevailing legislation establishes a fine of 500 Cuban pesos (equivalent to about $23), the retroactive collection of outstanding fees for the illicitly-used power and a cut in electricity supply for 72 hours for first-time offenders who are found to be committing fraud, Tribuna de La Habana said.

Repeat offenders will be liable for fines of 1,000 pesos (about $45), suspension of their electricity for 15 days and other penalties, the newspaper said.

The head of inspections in the capital?s residential area for the City of Havana Electric Company, Santiago Michelena, said that during the summer is when ?more fraud? is committed, adding that up to the end of May authorities had detected 2,776 instances of violations.

The installation of measures to block the functioning of power meters and the clandestine ?hooking in? to collective payment networks are some of the most frequent illicit acts.

The intensification of inspections against violations of the electricity regulations comes within the drastic measures decreed by the Cuban government to save power since the economic situation on the communist island worsened with the effects of the international financial crisis, the fall in tourism revenues and exports, among other factors that have left the authorities here in a very illiquid position.

The measures include the cutting off of electricity to firms and institutions that do not have a savings plan or who fail to comply with such plans already in place, restrictions on the use of air conditioning and refrigerators and changes in work schedules.

The restrictions on energy consumption starting on June 1 have saved Cuba the equivalent of a total of 18,296 tons of various kinds of fuel, according to official data. EFE rmo/bp

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