Greece's radical new government is already splitting over privatisations

Panagiotis LafazanisΛΑΦΑΖΑΝΗΣ, YouTubeGreek energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis is splitting with the government’s official stance already.

Greece will not go ahead with privatising its dominant electricity utility PPC or power grid operator ADMIE, Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said, despite promising its creditors not to halt sales that are underway.

The comments from Lafazanis appeared to mark the first sign of open dissent from a minister on the far left flank of the new Greek government over a deal with the euro zone to extend the country’s bailout programme.

The Public Power Corporation has already launched a tender to sell a 66 per cent stake in its power grid operator ADMIE, and several investors including state Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) and Italian grid operator Terna have been shortlisted as buyers.

“The tender for ADMIE will not go ahead,” Lafazanis told Ethnos newspaper in comments published on Wednesday. “The companies have not submitted binding bids so it will not be completed. That is also the case with PPC.”

The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had to stage a climbdown to secure agreement last Friday from the eurozone on extending the bailout programme by four months, including undertaking to respect the privatisation process where tenders have been launched.

The energy privatisations are jointly handled by Lafazanis and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who has overall responsibility for asset sales. A finance ministry official said on Tuesday that all the sales would be reviewed case by case.

The previous conservative-led government had passed legislation to spin off PPC and sell about 30 per cent of its production capacity under a privatisation plan agreed with the country’s EU/IMF lenders.

Soon after taking office last month, the new government promised to halt a series of privatisations.

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This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2015. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

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