Gov’t facing pressure for more privatizations, energy included

The government is remaining cagey about privatizations as negotiations with the country’s creditor representatives, aiming to finalize the first review of Greece’s third bailout package, continue.

Though government officials have spoken considerably on prospective tax and social security revisions, virtually no information has been released on the privatizations plan, the new privatizations fund, and the state assets it may take on board. The picture is extremely blurry, which strongly suggests this is a high-pressure front for the government in its talks with the lender representatives.

Energy Minister Panos Skourletis is the only government official to have touched on the subject when he unleashed  an attack yesterday on TAIPED, the existing State Privatization Fund, established by the country’s previous administration, and its intentions. Skourletis described the fund as a “domestic troika”, adding that “it has its own privatization plans,” implying that more privatizations are being prepared in addition to nine the government has insisted it will confine the sale to.

According to certain sources, the privatization front remains open with Berlin pressuring for additions to the nine sale efforts already in progress. At this stage, it is unclear how many public service companies, including enterprises from the energy sector, could be added to the privatization list.

Sources informed that, for some weeks now, the country’s lenders have presented Greek officials with a proposal calling for full utilization of TAIPED’s current assets listed on the Asset Development Plan (ADP), 23 in total, as well as an additional four. The ADP plan includes privatizing 17 percent of main power utility PPC, 65 percent of DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, and 35 percent of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum).

Berlin, sources informed, has categorically rejected a Greek proposal to lower the new privatization fund’s target figure of 50 billion euros.

Stergios Pitsiorlas, TAIPED’s president, yesterday told local media that although the existing agreement commits the government to nine privatizations, it also includes an objective for 6.4 billion euros of privatization revenues to be raised by 2018, meaning that a supplementary program will be needed.

TAIPED has collected nearly three billion euros from 2011 to the present, and will need to raise roughly this much more by 2018.