Ankara municipality tries to annul privatisation of natural gas distributor 

Ankara metropolitan municipality has filed a complaint with Turkey’s State Council to annul the privatisation of the capital’s natural gas distribution company, Başkentgaz.

The government implemented special regulations for Başkentgaz in 2013, allowing for the full privatisation of the municipality-owned company, instead of 80 percent as required by law, Mahmut Esen, an advisor to Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş, told the Sözcü newspaper.

The regulations also ended the participation of municipal representatives in the running of the company in violation of the Natural Gas Market Act, Esen said.

The law gives municipalities representation rights in energy distribution companies, including in cases where the municipality no longer has shares. The right to municipal representation is important for consumers, as it allows for better management of complaints, Esen said.

“We are looking into possible connections between the high amount of donations the company has made, and the special privileges it has been given,” Esen said.

Başkentgaz has been the focus of media attention in recent days over news that it made a donation of $8 million to the Turkish Red Crescent.  

The donation was allocated for the Ensar Foundation, an Islamic foundation that was previously involved in a sexual abuse scandal involving dozens of children. The use of the Red Crescent as an intermediary allowed Başkentgaz to make a 100-percent tax deduction, instead of the 5 percent a direct donation would have permitted. 

The municipality first appealed to the Energy Markets Regulatory Authority to restore its rights, and upon rejection took the matter to the State Council, citing what it said was a violation of the constitution, Esen said. The municipality is aiming to get the case heard at the Constitutional Court.