MPs pave way for part privatisation of rail company affiliates
On Tuesday, MPs voted 66 in favour and 10 against scrapping a provision in the Slovenske železnice act that prevents the rail operator from sharing or transferring stakes in its subsidiaries to other legal entities.
The government proposed crossing out the provision on the grounds that it clashed with the strategy for the management of state equity stakes.
Infrastructure Ministry State secretary Klemen Grebenšek said the move would open Slovenske železnice affiliates to other stakeholders, but only up to 50% minus one share.
The coalition submitted last week an amendment to the effect that the rail company can only dispose of stakes in affiliates in accordance with the state equity asset management strategy.
SocDem MP Jan Škoberne explained at the time that unless the amendment was passed, the rail company might only offload profitable parts such as the freight division, while keeping the parts of lesser interest to the market.
The left-leaning part of the opposition voted against the motion on the grounds that it constituted the first step toward privatisation of rail infrastructure.
If private capital is let into the railway company and its subsidiaries the quality of public services they provide would be reduced, Franc Trček of the United Left (ZL) has warned.
The changes are expected to allow the entry of a strategic partner in the freight transport division, which is in line with the operator's strategy through 2020, which envisages an expansion of SŽ Tovorni promet to foreign markets.
Slovenske železnice is in talks on potential partnership with the Austrian railway operator, with which it has already signed a letter of intent.
According to director general Dušan Mes, the procedure could be completed by the end of the year.