Parliament approved on September 27 with its second reading a draft of legislative amendment allowing the government to float stakes of state-owned enterprises (SOE) on international stock markets.
On the same session the ruling party lawmakers voted down an alternative proposal by the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), a leading party in the small parliamentary minority group, to allow initial public offering of no more than 25% of state enterprises’ stakes. The government reiterated for number of times that it would float only minority stakes, retaining controlling stake of the major SOEs; but the opposition lawmakers were insisting on reflecting that verbal guarantee by the government in the legislative amendment.
CDM wanted limitation of 25% to be introduced in respect of the Georgian Railway; Georgian State Electric System, which is in charge of power transmission throughout the country and Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC), which operates the North-South Gas Pipeline, transporting gas from Russia to Armenia via Georgia.
In respect of GOGC the current law on oil and gas stipulates the government to retain ownership of at least 75% of GOGC. But in a separate legislative amendment, the Parliament on September 27 passed draft of the amendment to this law with its first hearing saying that the government should own “more than 50%” instead of current 75%; as a result, after the draft is passed with its second and third hearing the government will be allowed to launch initial public offering of more than 25% of GOGC, but not its controlling stakes.