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Row erupts over liberalisation of energy market

The president of the Competition Commission, Professor Roland von Büren, has raised a few political hackles following his comments on the speedy liberalisation of Switzerland's energy market.

This content was published on February 14, 2000 - 15:50

The president of the Competition Commission, Professor Roland von Büren, has raised a few political hackles following his comments on the speedy liberalisation of Switzerland's energy market.

Von Büren told a news conference that if Switzerland did not open its electricity market within what he called a suitable period of time, he would invoke the cartels law.

He said that if parliament agrees to a proposal to link market liberalisation to the acceptance of an energy tax and if this tax proposal is voted down by the people, then his commission would step in. But, he added, this would only be as a last resort.

Rudolf Rechsteiner, a Social Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives and an expert on energy matters, has taken issue with von Büren. "He criticised the parliament for the energy taxes intended to promote hydro-power and renewable energy," Rechsteiner said.

"I don't think it's appropriate for a government official to criticise the work of parliament," he said. "I think it's part of the campaign of right-wing parties against these taxes and it indicates to us that he's a part of this movement."

On the subject of the cartels law, von Büren said he was willing to be flexible on what was considered a suitable period of time for the introduction of market liberalisation. "I think this should be done within a couple of months for the big companies and a few years for the rest of the market."

Rechsteiner said von Büren's only interest is helping big business. "We want liberalisation for all consumers and we want it soon," he said, adding that the small consumer should not be forced to pay for the indebted nuclear power stations while big business gets the cheaper electricity.

From staff and wire reports



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