ECONOMY

FYROM PM takes a more moderate stand on OKTA

Branko Crvenkovski, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), had already declared that the OKTA refinery would no longer enjoy a monopoly in the country’s market, but had ceased talking about reviewing the 1999 agreement to sell the state refinery to Hellenic Petroleum signed by his predecessor, Ljubco Georgievski. When in opposition, and up to September’s election, Crvenkovski had attacked the agreement’s «lack of transparency» and presented it as a case of the Georgievski government’s corruption. In office, Crvenkovski has shown that his previous statements were motivated by political expediency. A few days ago, he had anticipated the FYROM constitutional court’s decision, saying that his government would reimburse OKTA for the extra taxes it would have to pay. The court ruled that OKTA’s paying less than 1 percent tax for importing crude oil and oil products gave it an unfair competitive advantage over other fuel distributors, who pay 20 percent. FYROM’s association agreement with the European Union would have ended OKTA’s monopoly next year, in any case. FYROM government spokesman Laso Tsolakovski said that the Georgievski government’s action to offer OKTA a monopoly’s advantages had cost the state treasury 120 million; he added that his government would negotiate with OKTA over the exact amount of reimbursement.