Bulgarian Nationalists Seek Ban on Sale of State Power Utilty Stakes

Energy | February 8, 2012, Wednesday // 19:33|  views

Nationalist MP Pavel Shopov has said that the sale of the state-owned minority stakes in power distributors will go against public interests. Photo by BGNES

Pavel Shopov, MP from nationalist party Ataka, has called for a moratorium on the sale of state-owned minority stakes in power distribution companies, arguing that their privatization would hurt public interests.

In end-December 2011, Bulgaria sold most of the state-owned 33% stakes in the two Bulgarian units of Austrian power utility EVN AG, EVN Bulgaria and EVN Bulgaria Electrosnabdiavane, on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange in a deal worth BGN 92.97.

The main buyer was said to be the majority owner, EVN AG.

The government is also about to sell its 33% stakes in the two other power distributors, CEZ and E.ON.

Bulgarian nationalist have tabled a proposal for imposing a moratorium of the sale.

Shopov said on Wednesday that the sale of the state-owned minority stakes was aimed at fetching money into the cash-strapped state budget but the move entailed numerous risks for the country.

The nationalist MP explained that foreign companies owning majority stakes of power distributors had state or municipal participation, while in Bulgaria's case, the sale of the 33% stakes meant that the country was giving up on its involvement.

Rumen Ovcharov, MP from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and a former Minister of Economy and Energy, argued that it was the right moment for the state to buy back the majority stakes in power distributors.

Petar Dimitrov, BSP MP and also a former Energy and Economy Minister, insisted that the buy-back was imperative because, following the logic of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Bulgaria would not profit from the privatization of power distribution firms.

Valentin Nikolov, Deputy Chair of the parliamentary group of GERB, said that it would hardly be possible for the national power grid operator NEK to buy back the majority stakes in the power distributors.

Delyan Dobrev, Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism,claimed that the privatization strategy adopted in 2003 said that the state was free to sell minority stakes in power distributors.

He further noted that the public offering of shares of companies on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange was the most transparent deal possible.

Dobrev also drew attention to the fact that the Bulgarian Parliament had taken power distributors off the no-privatization list in 2008 and Ataka has raised no objections at that point,

He explained that the proposed buy-back made no sense because the state had the chance to control the companies through the independent watchdog, the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR).

The vote on the proposal was eventually postponed for the next sitting of Parliament.

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Tags: Ataka, nationalist party, Pavel Shopov, Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, Rumen Ovcharov, Petar Dimitrov, Energy and Economy Minister, GERB, Valentin Nikolov, power distributor, EVN, power utility, Bulgarian Stock Exchange, BSE


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