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11.1.2017

The Ombudsperson published the Report concerning flat rate (presumptive) invoicing of water expenses by water supply companies

In the analyses conducted, the Ombudsperson observes that while precision of legal framework is uncontectable, the factual state proves the failure to respect the laws in question, but also failure to respect the secondary legislation which was precisely drafted by the Water Services Regularity Authority, which threatens with disrespect of human rights protected by the Constitution. A worrying issue remains the fact that flat rate invoicing of water where the method of invoicing through water meter exists, as well as water invoicing where the technical possibility for installation of water meter does not exist compromises the consumer with legal uncertainty, as well as the entire legislative work in drafting the framework regulating this area.

The Report points out that Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the ECHR presents the “property” the possessions expressed in consumers’ money, earned through the salary or even pension. As per this regard the Ombudsperson states that whatever intervention into consumer’s “possessions”, which is not done in accordance with the Law, constitutes violation of this right and states that water invoicing can by no means be a violation of this right, but the violation will be caused by the disproportionate water invoicing. Additionally, the Report explains that in spite of the fact that Law foresees flat rate water invoicing in certain cases, in particular where there are no technical conditions for installation of water meters, this invoicing should be done proportionately and fairly.

Not only does flat rate (presumptive) and disproportionate invoicing constitute an intervention into the property right of consumers, but it also constitutes unequal treatment which is in contradiction with Article 3 of the Constitution of Republic of Kosovo, where equality before the law is guaranteed.

The given Report recommends to the responsible authorities that water invoicing is done based on the real consumption showed on the consumer’s water meter and according to real expenses. Setting the flat rate price where measuring is not possible based on the water meter, should be done in conformity with rules in force, especially in conformity with Rule on minimum service standards of water service providers in Kosovo (R-03/U&K), Article 38 (b). Taking into consideration licencing of Service Providers by the Authority, I recommend better monitoring of the Service Provider regarding the implementation of the secondary legislation approved by the Authority itself. Irrespective that such an obligation is foreseen by the regulations of the Authority, what was mentioned above is an indication towards the exercise of more strict monitoring measures in order to prevent further intervention in the protection of the consumer’s rights and the exercise of the property right.

Report with Recommendations in its full form has been delivered today to the responsible authorities and has been distributed to media as well as is published in OI official web page.
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