Latvian MPs predict referendum on Latvenergo privatization

  • 2000-07-06
Riga (BNS) - Latvian lawmakers forecast a referendum on a bill which
provides that Latvenergo electricity utility remain state property,
because Parliament will reject the draft law or accept it with some

Latvia's Way parliamentary faction chairwoman Kristiana Libane said
it will be necessary to restructure and partially privatize
Latvenergo if no party from the ruling coalition changes their
opinion. In this case, the bill will also be rejected by Parliament
and the referendum will have to be held.

Libane said LW is not going to change their stand regarding the
government's decision to restructure and privatize Latvenergo. She
also said the number of signatures collected showed that some part
of the society was indeed interested in Latvenergo's fate, but it was
not the majority of the population as only one tenth of the
electorate had signed against Latvenergo privatization.

The People's Party faction deputy chairman Janis Lagzdins said that
PP and other ruling coalition factions will not change their mind
regarding Latvenergo privatization because only a small section of
the electorate wants to retain the state ownership over the energy
company. Otherwise PP would probably change their stand, said

For Fatherland and Freedom (FF)/LNNK parliamentary faction chairman
Vents Balodis did not rule out the possibility of Parliament adopting
the bill, albeit with some alterations. Thus, the referendum about
the bill is inevitable.

Janis Jurkans, who chairs the opposition faction "For Human Rights in
Integrated Latvia," also believes that there is going to be a
referendum on Latvenergo privatization.

Jurkans said Parliament was not likely to adopt the bill as it was,
and the referendum will have to be held anyway. The parliament is
already "so unpopular," he noted, therefore it would be very wrong if
the people were deprived of the chance to make their opinion known.

The Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party faction chairman Egils
Baldzens said if the ruling coalition listened to reason, it would
adopt the proposed amendments to the energy law without any changes,
because the position of the population on the issue was clear enough.

Public opinion polls also indicated that most of Latvia's population
supported the idea to retain state ownership over Latvenergo,
Baldzens added.