Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Referendum Against the Privatisation of Warsaw's Heating Network

Below I publish an article concerning the campaign for a referendum in Warsaw on the privatisation of the company running the city's heating network. The article first appeared in Polish in the blog Zielona Warszawa

The Greens along with the Warsaw branch of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and trade unions have initiated a campaign for a referendum on the privatisation of the company that runs Warsaw's heating network (Stołeczne Przedsiębiorstwo Energetyki Cieplnej - SPEC). They now have sixty days to collect the signatures of Warsaw residents supporting the resolution for a referendum.

'SPEC is a company of strategic importance for the quality of life of Warsaw's residents. The local government should have complete control over this company. Only then can it have an influence over the development and investment in the company, the modernisation of the heating network and the quality of its service. The experience of other towns shows that the privatisation of public utilities leads to an increase in their price and a deterioration in the modernisation of their infrastructure' said Kristian Legierskia Warsaw Councilor and member of the Greens. 'The risk that the cost of heating will rise is very real when the Energy Regulatory Office does not guarantee the maintenance of current prices. The risk is even greater as SPEC is a natural monopoly. If Varsovians are not satisfied with the quality and price of service after privatisation they will still be compelled to buy from this private supplier of heating.'

'The decision to privatise SPEC is economically unviable. In an ad-hoc bid to rescue its budget the city government wants to sell off one of its most profitable companies. In 2010 the company made a profit of 82 million zloty, whilst simultaneously investing significantly in its infrastructure. The sale of SPEC would deprive the city of a guaranteed profit' - said Agnieszka Grzybek, a member of the National Council of the Greens. 'The local government unfortunately is deaf to all rational arguments and has ignored all attempts to discuss the merits of SPEC's privatisation. Even worse it has independently made the decision to privatise SPEC, bypassing the council. For this reason we believe that the residents of Warsaw should be able to express their own opinion on this matter.'

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