The government’s privatisation programme received a setback on 7 July, when the constitutional court invalidated an enabling act passed by parliament in May permitting accelerated privatisation by government decree.

An all-party group of around 90 MPs opposed the enabling act. They said it violates the constitution and is an arbitrary and hasty means of selling off state economic enterprises (SEEs).

The decision has dashed hopes that the court would not continue to block privatisation by decree following its recent narrow vote against an injunction (MEED 1:7:94).

Opponents of privatisation are preparing an application to the constitutional court to annul a law passed in parliament recently for the denationalisation of the telecommunications division of the posts, telegraphs and telephones administration (PTT).

However, the head of the new Privatisation Agency (OIB), Tezcan Yaramanci, says the government will press on with privatisation regardless, and that the ruling is not retroactive. Its main impact will be as a psychological deterrence to the markets, he adds.

Five decrees issued under the enabling act will remain in force unless the court invalidates them individually, Yaramanci says.

The government expects about $2,300 million in proceeds from denationalisation in 1994. This could rise to around $18,000 million in 1995. Nine large SEEs have been listed for denationalisation in 1994. The OIB has already sought bids for a block holding in the Eregli Iron & Steelworks (Erdemir) on the Black Sea, and may invite bids soon for shares in refined products distributor Petrol Ofisi.