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Moldova introduces state of emergency in energy sector

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Moldovan PM Natalia Gavrilita is welcomed at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels
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CHISINAU (Reuters) -Moldova's parliament on Thursday approved the government's request to declare a state of emergency in the energy sector, allowing it to divert funds to pay for gas supplied by Russia's Gazprom.

Energy importer Moldovagaz said later it had paid its January gas advance to Gazprom, a day after the government said the Russian group had rejected its request to reschedule the payment. Gazprom owns a 50% plus 1 share stake in Moldova's energy supplier.

Moldova's prime minister Natalia Gavrilita said on Wednesday the cabinet needed to expand its powers to manage the energy sector, including switching gas supplies from industry to households and using budget funds to pay for gas.

"The introduction of a state of emergency is necessary for the energy security of the state, for all citizens of Moldova to spend the winter without problems and have gas," Gavrilita told the parliament.

The new regime will last 60 days.

Gavrilita said the move would allow the government to defer VAT payments for Moldovagaz and transfer funds from the state budget to the company which had been intended to compensate consumers for high tariffs.

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, writing by Pavel Polityuk; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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