ECONOMIC BRIEFS

SDĽ pledges not to support Strategic Company Law

The former communist SDĽ party, a member of the ruling coalition, has said it will not support a cabinet-approved plan to privatise so-called "strategic companies" - state-owned firms essential to the functioning of the economy.

The SDĽ is requiring that the state keep at least a 51% stake in energy although it is ready to agree that the state reduce its holdings to 34% in the banking sector.The party thinks that state ownership of natural monopolies should be decreed by law, and is willing to ally itself with the opposition HZDS and nationalist SNS on the issue.

A draft revision to the law on Large-Scale Privatization that the cabinet approved on June 4 enables privatization of natural monopolies such as gas distributor SPP, energy producer SE, the Slovak Postal Service, Slovak Railways (ŽSR), state forestry companies, crude oil pipeline operator Transpetrol and telecom monopoly ST.

Financial institutions would be privatized too, such as savings banks Slovenská Sporite1/4ňa (SLSP), IRB and VÚB, and insurer Slovenská Poisťovňa.

On June 8, the parliament advanced the draft bill to a second reading, but decided the next day to postpone further discussion.

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