The fountains in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires emblematic Plaza de Mayo were left unlit Tuesday and Wednesday night, after electricity company Edesur cut off power due to the city’s government's failure to pay the bill.
On Wednesday night the measure became effective for various public areas across Buenos Aires City including the iconic Obelisk in the 9 de Julio avenue (considered the world’s widest) due to a dispute over subsidy payments.
The Buenos Aires City government would not pay the bill without it being subsidised, which le Edesur on Tuesday to cut off electricity to some twenty monuments, water fountains and public walkways across the city, as well as parks and squares.
Mayor Mauricio Macri's administration owes the electricity company some 50.9 million Pesos (almost 9 million dollars), which amount to how much the service costs without subsidies, which were stripped away by the national government at the end of last year.
According to Edesur, the electricity was cut off, “after various warnings with no response” from the City authorities.
“When we talk about light, the city resident associates it with security, and that’s why we have to be careful about these things. We have a pretty well lit city and we can’t allow the lighting grade be lowered, because residents start to feel insecure with less light,” City Environment and Public Spaces Minister Diego Santilli said on Wednesday.
In related news Planning Minister Julio de Vido warned that the national government will slash subsidies to provinces which raise electricity rates, after a hike announced by Buenos Aires and Salta provinces.
“The national government will deduct subsidies granted for the generation of electricity in the same proportion,” De Vido warned from Caracas, where he is in an official visit.
“Those autonomous provinces deciding to change their electricity policies will be subjected to the State’s national legal authority over these subsidies,” he added.
In a written statement, De Vido remarked it constituted a matter “of justice and equality.” He added “if we don’t deduct the subsidies, we will be discriminating those provinces supporting the national policies of inclusion and competitiveness”.
President Cristina Fernandez has repeatedly clashed with Buenos Aires conservative mayor Macri and self declared 2015 presidential hopeful over subsidies and greater autonomy for the city which has status of province.
With growing outlays and diminishing revenue the Argentine federal government is determined to eliminate subsidies on transport and public utilities rates, while the provincial governments most of them under financed look for ways to level their accounts.
In the case of Buenos Aires City, Macri refuses to accept responsibility for the underground and transport system unless it includes the heavy subsidies. The city spent a week overwhelmed by garbage and stench since neighbouring province of Buenos Aires (controlled by Cristina Fernandez) refused further unloading in dumps unless the city pays a rent