By Die Morina and Rrahman Rama
A Kosovo parliamentary commission postponed voting on whether to send a government decision to grant extensive coal research licenses to a company chaired by retired US General Wesley Clark for parliamentary approval.
Kosovo’s Parliamentary Commission on Economic Development on Tuesday postponed voting on sending the government’s decision to issue a coal research licence to the company Kosovo Energy LLC Envidity for parliamentary approval after opposition MPs demanded more clarity about a scheme that some have described as a virtual monopoly.
“We should not vote on this today, because we do not know the history of this company,” Pal Lekaj, an MP from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK opposition party, said at the commission meeting.
He added that before discussing the government decision, there should be a public debate with the residents of areas that the company wants to explore, as well as a feasibility study.
A BIRN investigation published on Tuesday revealed that Kosovo’s government in August approved giving the Canadian-based energy firm Envidity Energy Inc – chaired by retired US General Wesley Clark – the right to search for coal on more than a third of Kosovo’s total territory.
The investigation showed that the Kosovo government previously amended the Law on Mining to allow coal research rights to be granted without a public tender, one month before Envidity submitted its request.
While Envidity still has to await approval of the deal by parliament before moving forward with the exploration, some maintain that – by granting the company research rights over such a wide area – Kosovo has effectively given it a monopoly to exploit the country’s rich coal reserves.
Kosovo’s Finance Minister Avdullah Hoti told the commission however that the implementation of the project would be in Kosovo’s economic interests and would create job opportunities.
“According to government estimates, the proposed project represents the public-private interest… By deciding in favour of this project, the parliamentary commission will pave the way for a deeper study on this project to proceed,” Hoti said.
But Enver Hoti, an MP from opposition party NISMA, argued that granting the licence would contravene the Law on Mining.
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