QUEBEC – prime minister François Legault suggests that the Québécois do not place a priority on the repayment of overpayments of Hydro-Québec.
Anyway, he argues, they will benefit from the reduction of the school tax and the increase in tax credits for families. These two measures together account for $ 1.5 billion per year.
In addition, his government will ensure that tariffs for hydro-electricity will not exceed inflation.
“That’s what the people want,” he ruled Wednesday, in a media scrum where he reacted to the signing by some 24 000 people to a new petition demanding the refund of the entire overpayment of Hydro-Québec.
“Their wages do not increase more than inflation, so electricity prices should not increase more than inflation,” he insisted.
When it forms the second opposition group in the national Assembly, the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) has calculated that approximately $ 1.5 billion in overpayments had been hijacked since 2008, and that this money was to be returned to Quebec.
The issue had become a true battle horse for the CAQ, which returned to the charge day after day in the Room to ask the minister responsible to repay the Québécois.
Mr. Legault had qualified as overpayment of Hydro-Québec to tax in disguise and backstab, while his spokesperson on energy, Chantal Soucy, concluded that “the time has come, therefore, to repay the Québécois”.
It had even filed a petition of nearly 50,000 names demanding such a refund.
On Wednesday, Mr. Legault recalled that he had never engaged in election campaign to repay the overpayment of Hydro-Québec.
When asked whether he understood the disappointment of Québécois who believed that the CAQ will have to repay the overpayment, it encouraged the media to do their jobs better and to “tell the truth”.
“It would require you to tell them the truth, you should tell them that we (…) we said it was to repay $ 1.5 billion by reducing school taxes by increasing the tax credits for the second and third child.
“I am surprised that it is not clear to you. I invite you, if necessary, tomorrow I will bring you the financial framework”, he said, in a tone combative.
The issue of overpayments Hydro-Québec haunts Mr. Legault since his arrival to power, the Journal of Quebec, who even lifted the veil, Wednesday, about the discomfort that it provokes within the caucus caquiste.
Last week, the prime minister went so far as to praise the merits of the overpayment. “It is necessary that there is an incentive for Hydro-Quebec to bring a gain in efficiency”, he pleaded.
It has justified its position based on the formula developed by the previous liberal government, under which 50 percent of overpayments are repaid to subscribers, and 50 percent are used to help the corporation to improve its productivity.
The surplus is given back to Quebec, directly or indirectly, according to him.
The government put in its coffers-half of the $ 180 million too many cashed-out by Hydro-Québec in 2018.
According to Hydro-Quebec, the sum of $ 1.5 billion represents the difference between the return authorized by the Régie de l’énergie and the actual performance.
Last march, the State-owned company, has unveiled profits of 2.84 billion $, then they had been of 2.86 billion $ in the previous year.
This result included a charge of $ 45 million attributable to the sharing of a part of the performance gaps with the client Hydro-Québec.