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Opposition fails to halt privatisation

OPPOSITION MPs from the Smer party have failed to persuade parliament to stop privatisation of six state-owned central heating companies. On April 6, only 69 of 147 MPs voted in favour of a Smer amendment to the law governing conditions for transfer of state assets, too few to move the proposal to a second reading, the SITA newswire reported.

OPPOSITION MPs from the Smer party have failed to persuade parliament to stop privatisation of six state-owned central heating companies. On April 6, only 69 of 147 MPs voted in favour of a Smer amendment to the law governing conditions for transfer of state assets, too few to move the proposal to a second reading, the SITA newswire reported.

Smer argued that the price paid by residents of these cities for centrally-produced heat would increase after privatisation, saying this has been the usual scenario after privatisation of what the party called strategic energy companies.

Smer also argued that dividends received by the state from the heating plants' profits have not been negligible.

MPs from the governing coalition countered that it will soon be necessary for someone to invest large sums in improving the heating plants and that since heat prices are regulated by Slovakia’s Office for Regulation of Network Industries (ÚRSO) there is no reason for concern about price hikes, SITA reported.

During the parliamentary debate Smer leader Robert Fico reminded Prime Minister Iveta Radičová of her pre-election promise to not privatise strategic companies and charged that the government’s current move toward privatisation was “an election fraud against the citizens”.

The sale of Slovakia's six heating companies is due to start in the second half of 2011. Cities where the plants are located are to get 5 percent of the shares for free.


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