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‘Receipts Mean Nothing:’ Armenian Villagers Faced With Overdue Utility Bills

Resident of the village of Taperakan in the Armenian Ararat province have reported that inspectors of Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA), the country's power distribution network, have been demanding that the villagers pay off utility arrears that have accumulated since 2002.

Two days ago, employees of the power utility tried to cut off the power supply of nearly the entire village but were prevented in doing so by the protesting villagers. Nevertheless, the inspectors have promised to come back in a few days and cut off the supply of the houses of those who do not pay the bills.

In an interview with Epress.am, Taperakan resident Gayane Dilanyan said she had never heard of these debts before: “They notified us about a 120 thousand drams debts, but I have the receipts for all the payments. I've payed the [utility bills] and have no debts. They wanted to cut off the power of the majority of the village's houses.

“I took the receipts to the [Vedi branch of ENA] to show them I've made all the payments. However, the officer told me 'it means nothing, the receipt doesn't prove anything. You might have given the money to the inspector, and he might have kept part of it for himself, leading to the accumulation of your debt.' They said they'll cut off the power supply if we don't pay off the money within 2 months. How could I have accumulated a debt since 2002 if one time the inspector left my four minor kids without electricity because of a 4000 drams debt?”

Villager Anahit Karapetyan also claimed to have payed all the bills. She said that the payments were logged in a special register; however, an ENA representative has taken away the register “for accounting purposes” and hasn't returned it yet. Despite having kept all the receipts, Karapetyan has also been faced with a more than AMD 18 000 debt.

Speaking to Epress.am, ENA spokesperson Natalya Sarjanyan said: “If a citizen has made the payments, and if  there are receipts, it's impossible for it to not have been registered in the database. Even if there were problems with the database, they can't say the receipt means nothing.”

Sarjanyan urged our reporter to provide the protesting citizens with their contact information “in order for us to understand what the problem is.” She added that the debts these villagers have been presented with “must be overdue receivables that have accumulated since November, 2002.”

“Each case is different; I can't say how and when each of their debts has accumulated. They should contact us [for details],” the spokesperson said.