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Railway privatization plan meets resistance in parliament

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Friday, February 15
MP Lado Papava warned against privatizing state rail company Georgian Railways at a February 12 parliamentary session.

“The government should consider the current regional situation and I ask them not to privatize the railway,” the newspaper Akhali Taoba quoted him as saying.

He emphasized that Armenian Railways is being transferred to Russian management, and warned that the recent founding of the South Caucasian Railways company, which is fully owned by Russian Railways and will manage Armenian Railways, is an ominous sign.

“Looking at this agreement it is clear who wants to capture Georgia’s strategic asset, and this would damage the country too much,” the newspaper Sakartvelos Respublika quoted him as saying.

Parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze responded by saying parliament will keep a watchful eye on any bids in the Georgian Railways tender.

“The appropriate committees will conduct active consultations with the government on this issue, and parliament must agree to any decision,” Burjanadze said, according to the newspaper Akhali Taoba.

The Ministry of Economic Development is currently considering five bids in a tender for the state-owned Georgian Railways. Each bidding company was required to submit a development plan for the railway and specify how much capital they propose to invest; however, the ministry says it is not yet decided whether, or to what degree, the railway will be privatized.