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The Tajik Authorities Appeal to the Population to Raise Money for Completion of Rogun Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   Nader Shah Icon

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:14 PM

The Tajik authorities appealed to the population yesterday to give up 50% of May and June salaries for completion of construction of the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant, once a Tajik-Russian project. Tajik lawmakers promised to give up all their salaries for these months. Russia in its turn seems disinclined to finance the project.

Beginning of its construction rooted in the Soviet days, the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant is an asset both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan desperately need. Russian Aluminium joined the project four years ago. Oleg Deripaska's company was expected to finance construction together with Tajikistan in return for 51% of the hydroelectric power plant. It was last summer, however, that Tajikistan terminated the agreement with Russian Aluminium claiming that the Russian company had not invested a single ruble in it over four years. (Russian Aluminium in the meantime claims that it paid for the technical and economic assessment.) "That's how a small company fleeced a whole state," Saifullo Safarov of the Tajik Presidential Strategic Center used to say then. Anatoly Chubais of the RAO Unified Energy Systems immediately announced that Russia did not intend to withdraw from the project. Representatives of the two countries have dismally failed to make a new agreement since then.

Completion of construction is a costly undertaking. The Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant is to become the largest in all of Central Asia (six turbines 3.6 gigaWatt each). All in all, over $3 billion are required. Tajikistan sought to draw Iran and Pakistan into the project but they declined the offer. Neither would the Tajik leadership abandon the project. It established an open joint-stock company earlier this month with the authorized capital amounting to 116 million somoni or $33.85 million precisely in order to complete the construction. The Tajik state budget is expected to transact $79 million into the project in 2009.

Russia in the meantime is taking its sweet time. When the initial agreement with Russian Aluminium went down the drain, the involved parties confidently expected a new agreement within a fortnight. Sources in the Russian Industry and Fuel Energy say nevertheless that "political battles go on." "All our efforts to reach an agreement with Tajikistan are frustrated. We may even withdraw altogether unless the price of continuation is right," the source said. "Anyway, participation in the project is not exactly on top of our list of priorities."

Experts meanwhile say that the project is quite important for Russia from the standpoint of geopolitics and that it should think twice before abandoning it. The energy industry, however, is of a different frame of mind. First, Russian companies are already involved in construction of the Sangtuda'1 Hydroelectric Power Plant. Second, Inter RAO EES prefers buying energy producing facilities abroad to building them. It follows that Russia may withdraw from the project indeed. Moreover, completion of the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant by the Tajiks themselves is not impossible at all. The Tajik authorities claim that if every resident of Dushanbe donates 50% of his or her salary, this fund-raising campaign in the capital city alone will make $10 million. It will take Dushanbe city-dwellers 30 years to raise the necessary sum all on their own.
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