Turkey: Energy shortage

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18 July 2000, Copyright ) Turkish Daily News

Energy shortage The authorities are frequently cutting power to both homes and factories and creating havoc. They claim the cuts are the result of a serious energy shortage in Turkey

Editorial by Ilnur Cevik

Ankara - Turkish Daily News

A friend in Istanbul says that he sometimes suffer six or seven energy cuts a day, ruining all the electrical appliances in his home. The same thing happens in industries which have to switch on generators.

In Ankara the situation is the same. On Sunday major parts of Ankara were without electricity for nearly seven-and-a-half hours. The authorities remain silent while life is paralyzed.

Some say the authorities are trying to demonstrate the dramatic situation of the energy crisis and thus force everyone's hand to speed up energy investments.

We are told the Energy Ministry has dished out several preliminary contracts, but none can be operational as long as the Treasury does not guarantee their financing.

After the austerity measures were put into force, the authorities said that some of the projects should be scrapped. The Treasury assessed the burden on the budget and decided to be conservative in the way it provides guarantees for loans.

So we are told the energy authorities are trying to draw attention to the plight of the sector and force action.

It seems the issue was taken up yesterday at a high-level meeting at the Prime Ministry. The authorities are also alarmed at the growing fiscal deficits of the State Economic Enterprises (KITs), which deal with energy production and distribution. They say the deficits have reached alarming proportions and something has to be done.

It is said that the privatization campaign in this field has hit serious legal snags. There is even talk that the much-sought-after international arbitration law has not helped. So besides the reluctance of the Treasury to provide loan guarantees, there is a legal mess.

We are told that foreign companies are frustrated with the current situation in Turkey and are not too enthusiastic to stay on. However, most have invested a lot of money in Turkey and simply can't leave.

We feel the issue should be addressed at the highest level and that solutions have to be found. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and his coalition partners should take up this crisis situation and display the political will to solve it.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 18, 2000

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