WEEKLY: Dream about Gabcikovo Comes True
Rumours and unsubstantiated information say that befriended companies that are not ashamed of doing business with the ruling government are shuffling around impatiently, expecting the announcement of fair and transparent tenders for the overhaul of the hydropower plant Gabcikovo.
It is unnecessary to emphasise that the energy sector is dear to Prime Minister Robert Fico’s heart. Thanks to the energy sector, he may make several his dreams come true. He may simply and elegantly control the masses and protect Slovakia against an energy disaster. His dream to return the crude oil carrier, or gas utility to the state has already come true. His dream about an independent and well-founded energy prices setting at the press news also came true. Another of his energy dreams came true last week; the one about the hydropower plant Gabcikovo. A dream about Mochovce is yet to fill his collection. If he wins the next Parliamentary Elections, this dream may also come true and he will celebrate it by cutting the tape.
Let’s talk about his present dream about Gabcikovo. Prime Minister is convinced that this dream is a good dream for Slovakia. This dream will move Slovakia ahead and never back. Optimistic, almost proletarian announcements of the government about Gabcikovo heard last week made some realists or pessimists among Prime Minister’s opponents shake. They criticise him for his laxity towards the entire matter. They say that it only perfect marketing. They also say that there is a threat of further lawsuits, or business for related companies.
Fico’s revenues – naive idea?
Opponents of the government’s steps warn that the state is unable to make such a profit from the hydropower plant Gabcikovo as Slovenske Elektrarne made. The state has no other types of energy sources which enabled Slovenske Elektrarne to manoeuvre more. Slovenske Elektrarne was able to sell electricity on so-called futures for higher prices instead of spot markets right away. Prime Minister’s advisers estimated the annual revenues from Gabcikovo to amount to 100 million euros. This is roughly the same figure as in the past. Under the lease contract, Slovenske Elektrarne received 35 million euros and the remaining sum was transferred to the state-owned company Vodohospodarska Vystavba. It means that while the hydropower plant Gabcikovo was operated, the state was sure to get roughly 65 million euros. Environment Minister announced on Slovak Radio in the program Saturday Dialogues last week that the state, after taking control over the hydropower plant, earned revenues of 640,000 euros from the sale of electricity generated in Gabcikovo last week. Let’s work with the figure 700,000 to make the calculations easier. If the power plant earns 700,000 euros each week, the total annual revenues will be a little over 36 million euros, if we count 52 weeks (which is one year). This is quite far away from the planned 100 million euros.
Good deals for friends?
There are many questions asking why the cabinet took the full control over the hydropower plant Gabcikovo which needs a general overhaul. This will require approximately 80 million euros. Slovenske Elektrarne controlled by Enel (Enel owns 66 % of the states) has already prepared the plan for the reconstruction which was approved by the general meeting. The state, as a 34-percent shareholder, also participated. Now, the state will finance the entire overhaul itself, instead of two thirds which could have been financed by Italians. Rumours and unsubstantiated information state that befriended companies that are not ashamed of doing business with the ruling government are shuffling around impatiently and are expecting the announcement of fair and transparent tenders. Director of Vodohospodarska Vystavba informed that the international tender would be announced in the upcoming months. They need to state calm, everything is as it should be.
Is the sale of Slovenske Elektrarne a reason for this move?
It would be interesting to untangle the role of the hydropower plant Gabcikovo in a planned sale of Slovenske Elektrarne. Although Italians pretend that the takeover of Gabcikovo will not harm them, I would not be so sure if I were in their shoes. After acquiring a majority stake in Slovenske Elektrarne, new investors would certainly welcome some bonuses instead of endless talks with the government or uncompleted Mochovce. Prime Minister Robert Fico repeatedly admitted on TA3’s program In Politics which was broadcast on Sunday that the government should consider purchasing this majority stake. Is he indicating something? Fico started this game and one cannot understand the matter. We may only take a guess whether he will or will not announce the return of another once state company to people’s hands ahead of the parliamentary elections. There is also an alternative that he is only trying s to reduce the selling price acting for a third party. Maybe he eventually wants Enel to stay in Slovakia to have someone to rail against since there are only few foreign companies left that still exploit Slovakia. Those who are from the closest west are linked to our astute businessmen who are also astute in politics.
What to say in the end. We should not wonder why Fico is so keen on energy. This is a suitable sector to use to manipulate voters easily and if you really believe that Slovakia may be saved, it is a best combination. I really do not understand „energy advisors“ who circulate around him. But, we should not wonder either. They must act rapidly since their chief may not be at the helm for a long time and the well with perfect deals may dry up fast. It’s interesting to see Slovakia has „astute” people. Some people are able to fill in their pockets with money during the privatisation, but also nationalisation. Slovakia – the Promised Land.
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The company Vodohospodarska Vystavba has not yet selected a supplier. The international tender was prolonged by two months.