On April 18th, 2020, Resolution No. 173/2020 (the “Resolution”), enacted by the Ministry of Productive Development (“MDP”), was published in the Official Gazette. The Resolution has regulated the terms of Decree No. 311/2020 (the “Decree”) related to restrictions over public utility operators’ ability to interrupt the supply of services such as electricity supply, gas, running water and sewage, fixed or mobile telephone and internet, and cable television, linked by satellite or radio-electricity, to certain users in case of delay or lack of payments up to (3) consecutive or alternated invoices with due dates since March 1st, 2020, and enforced price caps liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by fixing prices for 180-days.

Below you may find a summary of the Resolution’s most relevant aspects:

1. Creation of a coordination unit

A coordination unit is incorporated, entrusted to elaborate a report which shall indicate the number of users comprised by the Decree. This unit will be staffed by members of the MPD and representatives of ministerial bodies with powers on these matters, as well as authorities from the regulatory entities of each public utility.

2. Obligations of the public utilities’ providers

Public utilities’ providers must provide a list of all the users that may be subject to service interruption, in order to allow the coordination unit to prepare the report referred above and determine whether such cuts should be left without effect.

In turn, electricity distribution companies must inform to national and provincial regulatory entities, the federal Secretary of Energy and the coordination unit, the number of users with electricity pre-paid service, whose recharge corresponding to March, 2020 period and/or subsequent ones were not carried out in time, and will have to be provided of a normal service during a (180) day-term. The same obligation goes for companies providing telecommunications, Internet, and cable television service, whilst in this case, the report must be referred only to the Coordination Unit on a (15) running days term, counting since the Resolution’s publication.

Should there be any reasonable doubt regarding a user’s capacity to become a beneficiary of the Decree’s terms, the Resolution establishes that the providing company must faithfully compel the user to prove such condition before the corresponding regulatory body on a (5) day term. Within the subsequent (5) days, the authority will notify the company if that user is a beneficiary of the Decree and Resolution’s dispositions.

Moreover, article 6 of the Resolution bounds the public utilities to report before the relevant enforcement authorities the conditions of the payment facilities provided to users. In the case of telecommunications, Internet and television service providers, the payment facilities will have to be paid in at least (3) monthly consecutive and equal installments. No interest of any type will be charged.

Lastly, the Resolution imposes the obligation for public utilities to identify in the invoices and web pages the following aspects: the entire Decree’s operative section and the communication channel provided by the regulatory bodies in order for the users to make enquiries and/or require to be a beneficiary of the regime.

3. Flexible communication channels

Service users are enabled communicate by e-mail, Whatsapp and/or other communication channels enabled to that extent, in the context of the current mandatory social isolation.

4. LPG price cap

Finally, the Resolution allows LGP prices to fluctuate below the levels established by article 6 of the Decree, as long as LGP prices fixation mechanisms enable it.

For further information, please contact Nicolás Eliaschev and/or Javier Constanzó.

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