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Coalition retracts strategic companies proposal for now

Acting on a proposal from ruling coalition deputies, parliament on August 30 withdrew a cabinet-tailored revision to the large-scale privatization law from the order of debate. The former communist SDĽ party had insisted over the objections of its ruling coalition mates that the new law contain a clause guaranteeing the state a certain stake in 'strategic companies,' such as energy utilities and transport and telecom monopolies.

Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda had proposed in June that a 1995 Strategic Companies Law, which forbade the sale of state-owned firms deemed essential to the national economy, be scrapped, allowing for sale of Slovakia's utilities and state-owned monopolies. The SDĽ has consistently opposed this idea, arguing that since privatisation has not generated much revenue for the state so far, it is not likely to under the new government either.

Cabinet discussions on August 30 produced an agreement to set up a group of experts nominated by the coalition parties that should work under Privatization Minister Mária Machová.

The group is to prepare a draft privatisation law that should suit all sides. The government wants to have all controversial issues solved by September 10 so that the law can be passed before the European Commission concludes its assessment report on Slovakia.

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