THE QUARTER IN BUSINESS

Government talks tough about SPP privatization

A government analysis of the sale of the SPP gas utility claims that the sales contract was invalid. The report, tabled in February, argued that an expert appraiser should have valued the assets to be sold before the contract was signed. Because this had not been done, the report’s authors speculated that the SPP privatization contract could be invalid, and the state could still be the owner of 100 percent of SPP’s shares. The report even cast doubt on other privatization sales as well.

(Source: ČTK)

A government analysis of the sale of the SPP gas utility claims that the sales contract was invalid. The report, tabled in February, argued that an expert appraiser should have valued the assets to be sold before the contract was signed. Because this had not been done, the report’s authors speculated that the SPP privatization contract could be invalid, and the state could still be the owner of 100 percent of SPP’s shares. The report even cast doubt on other privatization sales as well.

In response, opposition MP and former Justice Minister Daniel Lipšic urged the ruling coalition to make all privatisation contracts public. However, parliament passed a resolution castigating the 1998-2002 Mikuláš Dzurinda government for the manner in which it sold a 49-percent stake and management control of SPP to a consortium made up of Gaz de France and Germany’s Ruhrgas.

Prime Minister Robert Fico, speaking after a cabinet meeting on February 20, claimed that the Dzurinda government had promised the SPP buyers that household gas prices would be at least as high in 2003 as in 2002 at the time of the sale. He also claimed that the consortium had known it was alone in the bidding before submitting its final offer.

These claims were refuted by former Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš, who noted that the report contained various egregious factual and logical mistakes.

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