MERT SEES NO REASON FOR CONCERN IN CONNECTION WITH REORGANIZATION OF THE FEDERAL ENERGY COMMISSION

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MOSCOW, March 11, 2004 (RIA Novosti) -- Russia's Economic Development and Trade Ministry (MERT) sees no reason for concern in connection with the reorganization of the federal energy commission (FEK).

"FEK's independence was largely declarative. The commission was oriented to the macroeconomic situation, which was determined by Gref (MERT's head) and the government," said Andrei Sharonov, first deputy economic development and trade minister.

Earlier, Georgy Kutovoi, the former head of the federal energy commission, told RIA Novosti that FEK's transformation into a Federal Tariffs Service would lead to its loss of independence. "We are making a step back from what we have done following the example of the United States, Italy and Spain that focus on the independence of such bodies as FEK; we have turned into a service which totally depends on what Gref says," Mr. Kutovoi noted.

Andrei Sharonov said that the chief of the Federal Tariffs Service would be appointed within a week.

In his words, the statute of the new service have not been worked out yet, but the law on the regulation of tariffs is still valid. This law, Mr. Sharonov noted, provides for competitive rules in establishing tariffs, and the equality of bodies establishing these tariffs and the economic entities for which they are established.

In the event of disagreement with the decision of the state body, the economic entity concerned may appeal to the court against this decision, Mr. Sharonov explained.

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