Kyrgyz PM continues resistance to nationalist calls on Kumtor

By bne IntelliNews January 28, 2014

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The Kyrgyz government has no plans to hold a referendum on the Kumtor gold mine, Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev said on January 27. Continuing resistance to calls to nationalise the huge project outright, he added that the government is currently discussing a provisional agreement with owner Centerra Gold.

Satybadiyev told a meeting of the Bishkek-based International Business Council that the government has rejected a proposal from several MPs to hold a referendum on the proposed deal with Centerra. "The government had firmly rejected such options as the nationalisation of Kumtor or a unilateral withdrawal from the agreement. Furthermore, the government believes that economic issues should not be put to a referendum," the PM told the meeting, according to Knews.

The new non-binding agreement between Centerra and the Kyrgyz government would see state-owned Kyrgyzaltyn taking a 50% interest in the joint venture company that would own the Kumtor project. In exchange, Bishkek would hand over its 32.7% equity stake in Centerra, according to a December 24, 2013 statement from the Toronto-listed company.

The deal is currently being considered by the Kyrgyz parliament. However, it does not differ substantially from an earlier deal that was rejected by MPs - who want the state to hold at least 67% of Kumtor - in late 2013. The deal was crushed decisively at a session on October 2013, with an overwhelming 118 of the 120 deputies in parliament voting it down.

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