Government Reaffirms Energy Privatization Pledge

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Prime Minister Andranik Markarian on Friday again sought to reassure Western donors that his government will honor its pledge to privatize Armenia’s energy distribution networks before the end of November. He said the government has conducted a "detailed analysis" of the failure earlier this year of its first attempt to sell the utilities to foreign companies.

"We accept and hope that the entry of an internationally renowned and efficient companies into Armenia will certainly benefit all sectors of our economy and contribute to the establishment of new free market mechanisms," Markarian told a special conference on the energy sector privatization in Yerevan.

The conference was attended by representatives of the World Bank–the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other international donor institutions. The World Bank’s resident representative in Armenia–Owaise Saadat–praised the authorities on their latest efforts to relaunch the process.

The Armenian parliament last week passed a government bill softening terms of an international bidding for the four state-run electricity companies. Markarian said the legislation is aimed at making the networks more attractive to potential investors.

Energy Minister Karen Galustian and several other cabinet members also spoke at the conference–discussing different aspects of the impending privatization.

The successful completion of the sell-off is the main condition for the release of the last $20 million installment of a $50 million World Bank loan designed for covering nearly half of the government’s budget deficit.


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