(Bloomberg) -- Germany is considering the introduction of subsidies on natural-gas as soon as January as the country seeks to cushion costs for households and businesses amid the energy crunch.

The government is checking whether subsidized prices for consumers are possible in January, though it acknowledged there were “practical reasons” against such an early move, a spokesman said Monday. A government-appointed panel had recommended a start in March or April 2023, mainly because utilities will need some time to solve technical problems. 

The step comes amid calls for speeding up aid as energy prices are expected to soar again in the winter months, hurting consumers and industry. On Friday, Germany’s 16 states had asked the central government to implement the gas price break on Jan. 1.

Germany’s energy industry said bringing the subsidies forward was impractical, “due to the impossibility of the technical and administrative implementation in such a short period of time,” Marie-Luise Wolff, president of energy lobby group BDEW, said in a statement. 

Due to these constraints, the Independent Commission for Natural Gas and Heating appointed by the government had recommended a phased approach, with a one-time direct payment in December. The suggested subsidy of as much as 80% of gas demand for households and 70% for industry should then be paid out in spring. 

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