Iraq subsidises power after protests over services

Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:05pm GMT

* Iraq government to supply free electricity

* Subsidy follows growing protests over lack of power

By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Iraqis will receive their first 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity for free each month, the Ministry of Electricity said on Saturday, following growing protests over poor electricity supply and basic services.

In the most recent demonstration, hundreds of people gathered in Baghdad on Friday to protest shoddy services and sporadic power, as turmoil rocks other parts of the Arab world.

Acting Electricity Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said the subsidy would apply to all Iraqis but was mainly aimed at helping around 8 million low-income Iraqis.

Consumers who use more than 1,000 KWH will pay for what they use over the exempted amount.

Last October, Iraqis began receiving electricity bills containing a 100 percent price increase following a government decision aimed at encouraging consumers to economise and to help tackle crippling power shortages. The price rose from 10 to 20 Iraqi dinars, less than $0.02, for the first 1,000 KWH.   Continued...

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