Part of a long-standing fight over the Russian-Tajik joint venture, Tajikistan's tax authorities have threatened to seize the bank accounts of hydropower company Sangtudinskaya GES-1, which provides a huge chunk of the country's electricity, over unpaid taxes.
The Russian-controlled company's CEO Sergey Kobtsev told a Dushanbe press conference on January 31 that if its bank accounts were seized it would be forced to suspend operation of the Sangtuda-1 hydropower plant, which produces around 15% of all electricity produced in Tajikistan. The executive claims Sangtudinskaya GES-1 has been unable to pay TJS37m ($7.8m) it owes in taxes due to outstanding bills for power owed by state utility Barqi Tojik.
Barqi Tojik currently owes TJS308m to Sangtudinskaya GES-1, Asia Plus reports. The utility said on January 30 that Dushanbe plans to raise the issue of its debts with Russian officials at the next meeting of the Tajik-Russian commission for trade and economic cooperation in February. The Sangtuda-1 hydropower plant was built with Russian funding, with Moscow holding 75% minus one share in Sangtudinskaya GES-1. The Tajik government holds the remaining stake.
A Barqi Tojik official complained that the cost of power purchases from Sangtudinskaya GES-1 is far above the price at which the utility is allowed to sell it under domestic tariffs, making its contract with the JV unsustainable. On top of that, difficulties collecting payment from consumers is adding to the problem, Abdullo Yorov said, adding that arrears owed to Barqi Tojik by customers currently amount to TJS715m.