Business Blog: Fico Attacks Government Energy Policy
Following the article of State secretary for the Ministry of Economy, Kristian Takac (see: http://www.thedaily.sk/2011/06/03/top-news/business-blog-slovak-gas-populism/), on how Robert Fico uses the gas industry for his populist ends, we are now publishing an unofficial translation of Fico’s position, as published in daily Pravda on Saturday. Head of Smer-SD Robert Fico hit back at the Ministry of Economy and the government over the proposed hike in gas prices and how they cancelled his law preventing hikes.
“Robert Fico, party chairman of Smer-Sociálna demokracia
Following privatisation of Slovensky plynárensky priemysel, its minority shareholders Gaz de France and Ruhrgas repeatedly tried to propose gas price increases, so that they could quickly get back the purchase price, incidentally, a very low one. Despite the fact that they own just 49% of the shares in SPP, they could submit proposals to hike up prices because it was the Board of Directors of SPP itself that decided on them, in which the minority shareholder – the 49% foreign owners with four members, and the 51% share of the state with just 3 members, thanks to a senseless privatisation. Four against three in the most important management body in SPP.
It’s a good life for the minority foreign shareholder when it can literally do what it wishes with the company. Under the government of Mikuláš Dzurinda, proposals to hike up gas went through because nobody from the government took care of prices.
In the term of office between 2006 and 2010 we halted the practices of the minority shareholder by pushing through a law, according to which a proposal to increase gas prices can only be submitted after the General Meeting has decided on it, where, unlike in the Board of Directors, the state has a majority. We can refer to the 2006 – 2010 period as the most stable period in energy prices in the history of the Slovak Republic. The state simply held a controlling hand over the conduct of the foreign shareholder.
The government of Iveta Radičova returned the power to submit price hike proposals back to the Board of Directors of SPP, by way of abridged legislative proceedings. It thus pushed through a law harming the interests of Slovakia as the majority owner of SPP, as well as the interests of the people and it thereby unilaterally accommodated Ruhrgas and Gaz de France. If something like that were to happen in the likes of Germany or France, the responsible politicians would be chased out of the country.
Just a few days after this absurd law took effect, SPP submits a proposal to increase gas prices by 30 to 40 percent. And the economy minister tells the public that if gas prices in Slovakia go up, it is the fault of Smer-SD and Robert Fico, because the regulatory authority was filled under our government. In the period 2006 – 2010 a proposal to increase gas prices by 30 to 40% would never be possible under thanks to the active regulatory policy of the state and our interest in watching the living standard of people.
I am convinced that minister Miškov didn’t even have an inkling that SPP would submit such an absurd proposal to increase gas prices and he replied to the unpleasant question by his usual mantra – Smer and its chairman is to blame.
If minister Miškov feels that by consistently slandering someone else he will rid himself of the blame for the damage caused to the people, he is very much wrong. I’ll give the minister from SaS one free piece of advice. The government is perceived among people as the “most powerful”, literally “all-powerful” state authority. That is why everything good that happens in the country is linked to the government. The opposite is also true. Everything bad is assumed by it.
I therefore recommend that the cabinet of Iveta Radičova to contemplate on what it did with energy prices and how it damages the people. There is still time to correct it, and we will assist in this. If they are not capable of thinking properly, then maybe we should be thinking over the whole government.”