NEWS DESK THE price of a bottle of butane gas is to come down from 13.5 euros to 10.5 euros when the new quarter starts on April 1. Central Government Industry Minister, Miguel Sebastian said yesterday at a government committee meeting that the cheaper price will mean each bottle will cost 22.4 percent less than previously. He also said that natural gas is going to become cheaper but although it can be used as a primary material in generating electricity, power supply companies are not going to pass on the reduction in cost to their customers. With the price of a bottle of butane coming down by 3 euros, an average user will save 72 euros a year. According to the ministry, this is the largest fall-off in butane price since 1993. The price revision is based on calculation of raw material, plus transportation costs and the strength of the euro against the dollar.

Responding to questions on electricity bills being issued once a month as opposed to once every two months, the Minister insisted that it is the customer who benefits from paying 12 times a year. He warned supply companies that any abusive invoicing or violation of rights of the consumer would result in heavy fines.

Sebastian's comments will be welcomed in the Balearics where customers of electricity company GESA were up in arms last month after bills for December were mistakenly calculated using the new tariff for 2009. Half a million customers had to be reinvoiced. Also a contentious issue was the fact that some readings had been estimated as opposed to taken from a metre and were therefore frequently in excess of actual usage. When GESA president, Bartomeu Reus was called before a regional government committee to explain the billing, he said that there was nothing illegal in estimated readings because the difference would always be returned to the customer when an “actual” reading was finally made.