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Expats in Malta to be refunded on discriminatory utility bills

In a victory for expatriates from the EU living in Malta, the government has assured the European Commission (EC) it will refund the difference on discriminatory utility bills.

Many expats living on the island were unaware of the two-tier billing system that was in place, but the Up in Arms campaign group sought to spread awareness and bring about change.

Foreigners were being charged more for their energy and water by the ARMS company and only being offered a discount when they came forward with their identification cards and asked for one.

The problem with this was that the firm refused to get in touch with those that were eligible, meaning they paid 30 per cent more than Maltese people simply because they weren't aware of their rights.

A spokesperson for the EC told the Up in Arms group that the government of Malta has issued assurances any expats left out of pocket would be refunded, reports Malta Today.

This follows action by the group to sue several state entities, including ARMS over the payments, which are considered discriminatory by many and would break EU law.

The battle has been waged for several years and in October 2012 a formal notice letter was sent by the EC to the government, but the response was seen as unsatisfactory.

However, earlier this month, the government and representatives from ARMS decided to change the policy and informed the EC of their actions.

A spokesperson for the EC said: "I am glad to inform you that the Maltese government also assured the Commission that claims of EU citizens who suffered losses would be analysed on a case by case basis by ARMS Ltd.

"Where an EU citizen had submitted a 'change in number of persons declaration' and had been unduly denied the application of reduced water and electricity rates he/she shall be entitled to a refund."

Reassurance was also given that the EC would continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the government makes good on its promise.

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