According to a report by the National Audit Office (AGN, for its acronym in Spanish), consumers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pay 5.77 times more for cylinder than those with access to the natural gas (NG) network. This "strong price asymmetry" is related to "the delay in implementation" of a trust fund provided for in a law sanctioned by Congress more than three years ago that was never regulated by the National Executive Power.
Law 26.020 on the commercialization of LPG was enacted in March 2005 and had the objective of ensuring supply to the poor sectors and to areas that do not have natural gas service through networks, mainly the NEA provinces: Misiones, Corrientes, Chaco and Formosa.
The control body exemplifies that the Federal Capital pays $ 18.39 bimonthly for 49.35 cubic meters of GN, while the equivalent of LPG, 45 kilos, costs $ 106. The equation shows even more pronounced gaps as consumption increases, because two cylinders of 45 kilos come out $ 212 and the same amount of natural gas, only $ 21.27.
The law enforcement authority is the National Energy Secretariat which, according to the AGN, did not agree on control mechanisms with national and provincial Consumer Defense representatives to monitor the reference prices of the cylinder. On the other hand, the dependence of the Ministry of Planning also did not guarantee the operation of the centers of attention to the users' complaints nor did it put in place a register of LPG containers. In the market there are more than 20 million cylinders and the data that the Secretariat handles present "inconsistencies", says the Audit: of the 32 fractionators included in the sample, only 20 had their registered packaging park, and neither the use of security measures such as expiration alerts was found. This fact is not less, is that because of the high manufacturing costs, few cylinders add up to the available stock as well as those that are destroyed, that is to say, the renovation of the packaging is scarce.
The analysis of the AGN states that the lack of regulation of the measure sanctioned by Congress causes some of its relevant aspects to become "inoperative". The regulatory framework provided for an "open access system for storage activity" which sought the best functioning of the LPG industry from the entry of "third parties to the market in an equal opportunity framework", but the mechanism has not yet Was implemented.
Another irregularity detected by the Audit during its work is that the Energy Secretariat allows the market operators to carry out their activity without having complied with the requirements set forth in current regulations and, at the same time, does not issue certificates of qualification to those who do complete obligations.