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Will Thessaloniki water utility become a P3?

There are concerns that Greece’s privatization agency TAIPED, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, will seek to make the publicly-run EYATH, the Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewage Co., a water utility that serves 1.5 million people, a public-private partnership.

There had been some optimism following an announcement by TAIPED at an EYATH general meeting that the agency would “review the privatization process” for the water utility.

Bloomberg reported that, “The Greek fund overseeing state asset sales will reconsider plans to offload Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewage Co. as voters opposed the offer and a court ruled against similar proposals in Athens. The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund will review the sale after responses from the local community and court, Greece’s second-largest water utility said in a statement on its website.”

That article notes, “Voters in Thessaloniki and 10 metropolitan municipalities of Greece’s second-largest city voted May 18 almost unanimously against the sale in an unofficial referendum. The country also halted the transfer of a 34 percent government stake in Athens Water Supply & Sewage Co. (EYDAP) to the state-asset sales fund in May after a ruling by the Greek State Council constitutional court.”

But Alter Thess comments (in Greek) that TAIPED will find alternative ways to proceed with privatization. That could include the sale of shares through the stock exchange or the granting of a minority stake to a private investor that would then also manage the water utility.

Another Alter Thess article (in Greek) further cautions, “Mayor of Thessaloniki Yiannis Boutari has repeatedly expressed the view that the management of EYATH should be given to ‘private hands’ and work with private sector criteria in a competitive environment.”

TAIPED owns 74 per cent of EYATH and had planned to sell a 51 per cent stake in the water utility.

We continue to stand in solidarity with our Greek water justice allies.

Further reading
Thessaloniki votes on water privatization
Thessaloniki votes no to water privatization
Top Greek court rules water privatization could put public health at risk
Blue Planet Project in solidarity with Initiative 136 in Greece
Greek austerity measures include water privatization, oil exploration