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Grab your money while you can…

Vienna, 05.07.2013

seems to be the approach currently pursued by ARA. Although the dust has hardly had time to settle on the remains of the monopoly for the collection of household packaging, ARA has already changed its way of thinking to an “economic system”. Funds that were actually supposed to reduce prices are being put in other reserves.

What has happened? From 2009 to 2011 the former monopolist amassed surpluses of around €75 m. ARA planned to pay back this money to customers indirectly, by keeping prices artificially low – naturally in the interest of non-profit operations. With two remarkably positive side effects for the former monopolist: competitors who are new to the market are unable to offer lower prices because naturally they were unable to save money during the monopoly. Customers who change to other suppliers also lose their share of the “savings”.

But wait a minute. Isn’t there a law that prohibits such machinations? That’s right! It’s called cartel law. This means there is a great danger that the monopoly will be unable to implement its plan to remain the ruling force on the market. So what is happening now? The existing reserves are being redeployed – after all, nobody likes to hand back money voluntarily! In the 2012 balance sheet another €20 m was put in an unsuspicious reserve as a precautionary measure, referring to §29a in the waste management law. It’s obvious that so much money could never be needed as provisions for subsequent obligations upon termination of the system, if only from the fact that ARA’s calculation includes the assumption that its 100% market share will be retained.

The question justifiably remains as to whether such redeployment is permissible. “Of course” will probably be the answer – complete with an attestation by the auditor Deloitte Audit Wirtschaftsprüfungs GmbH. Incidentally, it is the same auditor who has been paid millions by ARA to perform checks on customers with the aim of pumping even more money into the “economic system”.

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