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Czech plans to ease electricity price impact to cost up to $5.3 billion - minister

·2-min read

PRAGUE (Reuters) -The Czech government's national plan to ease the burden of soaring electricity costs, including some form of a price cap, could cost up to 130 billion crowns ($5.30 billion), Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura was quoted as saying on Thursday.

European Union countries are looking at ways to shield their population and companies from power prices that have shot up to record highs as Russia reduces gas flows to the bloc.

Stanjura said in an interview with daily Hospodarske Noviny, published on its website, that a planned windfall tax affecting energy groups, refiners, banks and fuel and power traders would run alongside plans to put some cap on electricity prices in place.

"I believe that based on what we know today, (the cost) close to reality is around 100, 120, 130 billion (crowns). Something like that," Stanjura said in the interview.

Besides the windfall tax, another source to cover for the measures would be the dividends from 70% state-owned electricity producer CEZ, which will have a "record profit", Stanjura said in the interview.

The Czech government is aiming to unveil a new package of measures to tame soaring power prices next week, in what it expects would work alongside any pan-European solution to be discussed by European Union member states on Friday.

The lower chamber of the Czech parliament should debate a bill containing the government measures at an extraordinary session on Sept. 16, a spokesperson for the speaker of parliament said.

The government is facing growing criticism at home for its slow response to the crisis, with tens of thousands turning up for a protest organised by far-right and fringe groups last weekend. Unions also plan a demonstration next month to protest soaring prices.

The Czechs have started implementing a reduced electricity tariff for households as part of its own plans.

($1 = 24.5440 Czech crowns)

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka, Jason Hovet and Robert Muller)