ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s Economy Minister Mehmet Simsek denied a report on Saturday that the government was thinking of raising electricity prices by 19 percent for households before July this year. The report in daily newspaper Referans said the government was also thinking of raising electricity prices for industry by 15 percent as part of a new automatic pricing system to be introduced at the beginning of July. «Minister Simsek pointed to the fact that prices were raised in January of this year, but no new figure has been released regarding the effects of the planned automatic pricing system,» a statement from Simsek’s office said on Saturday. The electronic pricing system reform is designed to remove political interference in energy price decisions and leave it to markets. Possible price increases due to the introduction of the new system have not been discussed. After steady prices for five years, the government raised electricity prices for households by 20 percent and 12 percent for industry on January 1, 2008. The liberalization of the pricing mechanism for state energy companies is seen as an important step before the privatizations of electricity distribution and production facilities. Four electricity grid tenders for the capital Ankara, Sakarya in the northwest, the central Anatolian region of Meram, and Aras in the east are planned for this summer, but no more grid sell-offs are planned for this year, Privatization Administration Chairman Metin Kilci said earlier this week. The privatizations, part of a broad sell-off program, are expected to bring in much-needed foreign direct investment as several major foreign companies are interested in buying into the fast-growing European Union candidate’s energy sector. Turkey will hold a tender in September to build the country’s first nuclear power plant, Simsek said in the report.