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Speculation over how Georgian Railway will be privatized

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Thursday, January 31
As the Ministry of Economic Development reviews bids from five companies for the Georgian Railway tender, speculation remains over how much, if any, of the state-owned company will be privatized.

Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze said in a January 16 Dow Jones Newswires interview that he would prefer to float ten percent of the railway initially—but added that the railway would eventually be entirely sold.

The Economic Development Ministry has publicly maintained there has been no final decision on how much, or whether, to privatize the railways.

Capital raised from the sale, the prime minister told Dow Jones Newswires, will go to a government fund to be drawn on in times of war or natural disaster, or, as Gurgenidze suggested is likely to happen, to pay for the cost of reintegrating breakaway Abkhazia into Georgia.

Most opposition politicians, meanwhile, are categorically against the privatization of the railway.

On January 28, the marginal Future Georgia party protested outside the Economic Development Ministry.

“Selling Georgian Railway is a betrayal. We don’t want it to fall into the hands of companies with a dubious reputation,” the newspaper Akhali Taoba quoted party leader Giorgi Laghidze as saying.