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Austria unveils 2 bln euro package for energy cost relief

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Austria unveiled a 2 billion euro ($2.2 billion) package on Sunday to help households and businesses shoulder massive increases in energy prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The measures include increasing subsidies for commuters by half, funding price cuts for public transport and cutting surcharges on natural gas and electricity.

“Many people depend on their car and cannot switch over at short notice. These people must be helped. We also support companies that are suffering now from high energy prices,” the finance ministry said.

The package also includes aid for users of agricultural diesel, small and mid-sized companies that use lots of fuel and companies that switch to alternative energy.

The ministry said the measures would save a family that commutes 50 km (31 miles) a day about 900 euros by mid-2023, a hotel employing 50 staff around 20,000 euros, and a large industrial company around 3 million euros.

Austrian inflation rose to 5.5% year on year in February .

EU finance ministers agreed last week to subsidise household fuel prices and offer support to companies hit by surging energy prices as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia is the bloc’s biggest energy supplier, providing 45% of its gas, more than a quarter of its oil and half its coal. Austria gets 80% of its gas from Russia under contracts that run until 2040.

Replacing this energy supply will not be simple and will require massive investment in infrastructure, the chief executive of energy group OMV said on Saturday. OMV said this month that it had no plans to refine Russian crude oil in the “near future”.