Bolivia nationalises four power companies

May 2nd, 2010 - 1:20 pm ICT by IANS  

La Paz, May 2 (IANS/EFE) Bolivian President Evo Morales Saturday nationalised three power companies with foreign capital and a local electricity cooperative during a ceremony to mark International Workers’ Day.
The nationalised power generating companies were Corani, which was 50 percent owned by Ecoenergy International, a unit of France’s GDF Suez; Guaracachi, half-owned by Britain’s Rurelec PLC; and Valle Hermoso, half of whose shares were held by the Bolivian Generating Group, a unit of investment firm Panamerican de Bolivia.

In each case, the Bolivian government had held the other 50 percent stake in the companies.

The nationalised Bolivian cooperative was Empresa de Luz y Fuerza de Cochabamba, or Elfec, an electricity distributor.

The companies were occupied early Saturday by army soldiers and police.

Morales - who issued the decree at one of Corani’s plants in the central province of Cochabamba - said that following these latest takeovers, state-owned power company ENDE will control 80 percent of Bolivia’s electricity generation.

He added that the plan is to continue with the nationalisation of the entire sector.

Energy Minister Fernando Vincenti said during the same ceremony that state power company ENDE, privatised during the 1990s, needed to be “re-formed”, adding that the entire production, transmission and distribution chain will be recovered, without specifying when that will happen.

The socialist Morales has chosen previous May Days to announce other takeover plans, including nationalisations in the hydrocarbons and telecommunications sectors.

“Once again, a first of May and as always we’re recovering our privatised companies,” Morales said.

However, Morales is currently under fire from public sector workers in different sectors who want a bigger salary hike than the five percent raise approved for this year.

Facing protests by teachers, police, doctors and other workers, Saturday marked the first time since Morales took office in 2006 that he did not take part in May Day marches.

The Bolivian president issued the decrees after returning Friday night from a visit with Venezuelan counterpart and close ally Hugo Chavez. The two leaders signed several accords, most notably in the energy sector.



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