Argentine Energy Secretary Javier Iguacel defended the government's decision to transfer gas surcharges to the gas consumers that must be paid to the production companies due to the depreciation of the Argentine peso.
"What happened was that the producers billed the distributors amounts in pesos that the distributors did not re-bill the users," the official explained at a press conference.
The energy secretary came out in front of the criticism after his portfolio published a resolution by which consumers must pay a debt incurred by the distribution companies with the oil companies due to the depreciation of the local currency between the end of April and until September .
That surcharge in the rate will be paid as of January 2019 and in 24 installments.
"What we try to do to mitigate the situation, is that it can be done in twenty-four months," he said.
With continuous criticism of the previous administration, Iguacel pointed out that gas production is dollarized, while gas transport and distribution are pesified, and that the latter item is adjusted for inflation.
"Gas contracts are in dollar prices because it is a company linked to energy," he apologized.
This surcharge on the bill is added to the increase of between 30 and 35% that began to apply from the 1st of this month.
70% of households, in sum, will pay about 700 pesos per month (18 dollars) in the gas bill, Iguacel said.
The secretary was criminally charged by a federal prosecutor who asked to investigate whether the official committed the crimes of abuse of authority and violation of the duties of a public official.
The Argentine peso began to depreciate against the dollar abruptly and almost continuously since the end of April, when the dollar was equivalent to 20.8 units.
Today the US currency is quoted at 38.6 Argentine pesos for sale.
Since it took office in December 2015, the Government of Mauricio Macri decided to change the tariff policy and adjust the prices of public services to market values to reduce State subsidies that generated a large fiscal deficit.