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Parliament Endorses First Privatisation Package (adds)

Ljubljana, 21 June (STA) - The National Assembly on Friday gave the government the green light to sell state-owned stakes in 15 companies in what the Alenka Bratušek government dubbed the first privatisation package. 46 MPs voted for the privatisation, whereas 20 were against.

Presenting the reasons for the first package of privatisation to MPs at an extraordinary session, Finance Minister Uroš Čufer described it as a stone in the mosaic of a comprehensive economic policy.

Čufer feels that Slovenia, having launched privatisation several times but never completing it, has recently lost credibility with respect to privatisation. He added that the procedure would be carried out transparently and professionally.

The list includes the state's stakes in flag carrier Adria Airways, adhesive products maker Aero, sports equipment maker Elan, laser maker Fotona and coatings maker Helios, which are already on sale.

In addition to this, the first package also involves stakes in airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana; Adria Airways Tehnika, the maintenance branch of the flag carrier; bank NKBM; telco Telekom Slovenije; chemicals processing company Cinkarna Celje; Ljubljana fairgrounds operator Gospodarsko razstavišče; tissue maker Paloma; spa Terme Olimija; tools maker Unior; and bread and pasta maker Žito.

Čufer said that the five years of economic crisis had shown that Slovenia's development model was unsustainable, which demanded improvements to corporate management and a comprehensive strategy of state assets management and classification of these assets.

Matjaž Han said on the behalf of the coalition Social Democrats (SD) that it was good for the economic and political stability of the country to overcome the privatisation blockade and to take steps forward.

Jože Tanko of the opposition Democrats (SDS) was critical of the plan as the list of companies is not supported by the objectives of the sale and projections of its effects on the country and its economy. He reiterated that the government was run by people from behind the scenes.

The SDS also regrets that the stakes in the companies on sale were not transferred to the Slovenia Sovereign Holding, which means that the pension fund would not get 10% of the value of each deal.

The coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) endorsed the plan, but its MP Marija Plavčak said that it was important that the state kept its stakes in companies which brought profit or had strategic importance.

The opposition People's Party (SLS) pointed to the lack of strategy and classification of assets, with the fellow opposition New Slovenia (NSi) backing them up, saying that selling should begin only when a strategy and classification were adopted.

With the coalition SD rather reserved about privatisation, eight of its MPs nevertheless voted for the package, whereas one voted against and one was absent. Also voting against were 16 SDS MPs and three SLS MPs, while NSi MPs abstained from voting.

The rest of the "yes" votes came from the coalition ranks.

Before the session began, the ZSSS confederation of trade unions urged parliament and government once again for the state not to fully withdraw from profitable companies. It argued that despite the crisis, the budget still greatly benefits from dividends, taxes and contributions from these companies.

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