Draft Law On Energy Privatization Approved

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The Armenian government approved a draft law on privatization of four energy distribution networks during the extraordinary session–the government press office told Armenpress.

Prime Minister Andranik Margarian is quoted saying that "the parliament’s April 25th decision to remove eleven energy distribution companies from the list of enterprises to be privatized in 1998-2000–by a separate law–affirms that the parliament is not against the privatization of energy distribution networks.

The prime minister also expressed his concerns over the fact that this issue was unduly politicized when there were some attempts to draw parallels between the energy privatization and faults that had been reported during the previous privatization processes.

Margarian said his government was against politicizing this issue. The draft law prepared by the government is called to shift the issue to the economic field–as well as to secure the transparency of the deal.

The privatization of the energy grid is carried out by the government through a tender committee and authorized state bodies.

The four energy companies that are to be privatized are grouped in two shares sale packages. The first group includes the Yerevan Energy Network and the North Energy Network–the second includes the South Energy Network and the Central Energy Network.

All companies participating in the tender are allowed to acquire only one package of the companies–and at least 51 percent of the shares of each company is to be sold through an international tender.

Energy Minister Karen Galustian was quoted saying that the Russian company ITERA was excluded from the short-list of foreign companies which successfully passed the preliminary phase of the tender.

The privatization of the energy grid will provide $40 million for the budget. It will also bring $80 million in investmen’s to Armenia’s economy. The draft bill is to be debated by the parliament this week and if it is passed–the World Bank will release long-term credits worth almost $50 million.

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