ATHENS – Hellenic Post (ELTA,) the state-run postal service, said it will eventually pay 50 million euros ($59.01 million) to the state-operated Public Power Corporation that it kept when customers paid their electric bills in post office branches.
Strapped for cash, ELTA held onto the money instead of forwarding it, an apparent bid to boost its liquidity, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.
But that meant people who paid on time lost a 15 percent discount for doing so and were also penalized for late payments because they hadn’t been recorded by PPC.
Energy and Environment Minister Giorgos Stathakis referred to the problem in talks with reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with creditors’ top auditors in the capital on with reports indicating ELTA will transfer 25 million euros ($29.51 million) to PPC next week, and the other 25 million euros by September.
Many of PPC’s customers who used post offices to pay their power bills had wait for hours at the utility’s offices to restore a 15-percent discount offered for timely payments as they had to present printed and dated payment receipts.
Customers who make PPC payments at the post office leave with receipts showing they’ve paid – except that the utility company is notifying them they haven’t because of big delays in getting the money from ELTA.
Thousands of PPC consumers had called the utility’s branches asking for explanations and for the settlement of their arrears. The company told Kathimerini that, “This is a really difficult issue which we will tackle immediately,” without explaining how.
PPC had faced a similar problem with ELTA last year, when the amount due to the utility had come to 19.5 million euros ($23.36 million) that was resolved only when PPC sent a warning letter to ELTA threatening to bring in the legal authorities.
PPC has commissioned ELTA to serve power customers for the payment of bills for an annual fee of 20 million euros ($23.96 million. PPC offsets that amount with the cash that ELTA withhold, but the problems for consumers remains unresolved.
Previously, ELTA said the problem with collecting bill payments for PPC was due to problems with an online interbank transaction system and because the post office had already spent the cash aimed for the utility company.