Latvia's utility bills cheapest in Baltics

  • 2003-02-13

Latvia has the lowest electricity and natural gas supply rates in the Baltic states, and its fixed-line telecommunication rates are the second lowest after Estonia, reported the Latvian Public Utilities Regulatory Commission.

Lithuania has the highest electricity rate among the three Baltic states, as the average monthly electricity bill (inclusive of value-added tax or VAT) stands at 7.8 euros, followed by Estonia with 6.53 euros and Latvia with 6.21 euros.

The same ranking also holds true for natural gas rates, with Lithuania's average monthly bill (inclusive of VAT) amounting to 3.09 euros, 2.78 euros in Estonia and 2.72 euros in Latvia.

Latvia's regulatory commission said Estonian and Lithuanian electricity and natural gas rates were revised comparatively recently, which was not the case with Latvia.

"It indicates that with time growing purchasing power will lead to a tariff hike. Assuming that all three Baltic states have similar utility network service costs, Latvia's natural gas rates are more likely to go up than the electricity rates should a rate adjustment come into affect," said the regulator.

The fixed-line telecommunication rate in Lithuania also is the highest in the Baltics, with the average monthly telephone bill (inclusive of VAT) amounting to 17.53 euros, while the analogous bill is 17.26 euros in Latvia and 13.63 euros in Estonia.

Lithuania also has the highest monthly subscription fee for fixed-line telecommunication services at 6.21 euros, while in Estonia this figure stands at 5.84 euros and in Latvia at 5.48 euros.

The Latvian regulator said a comparatively low fixed-line telephone rate in Estonia was due to the application of the same local-call rates throughout the entire country and the deregulation of the telecommunications market in 2002, resulting in a considerable decrease in international rates.

Since the rate structure in each Baltic country is different (i.e., one has a subscription fee for the given service, the other does not, while different rates apply to different groups of clients depending on the amount of consumption, etc), the regulatory commission obtained the data on the basis of the average statistical consumption in Latvia.

As a result, the comparative figures could not be based on the approved rates for the services, forcing the Latvian regulator to compile the survey on the amount of average monthly bills, adding up the subscription fee and average consumption.