Enron India Invokes Maharashtra's Debt Guarantee
LCG, Jan. 30, 2001Enron India, the builder and 65 percent owner of the big Dabhol electric power facility in India's Maharashtra state, has invoked a state guarantee to recover electric bills that have not been paid by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board."With monthly bills outstanding for both November and December 2000, Dabhol Power Co. has exercised its rights under the existing documents by drawing upon the Government of Maharashtra's guarantee," Enron India said in a statement.Just weeks ago, Maharashtra state paid the state electricity board's October bill when Enron threatened to invoke the guarantee. Standing behind the state guarantee is the sovereign guarantee of the Indian federal government. If Enron were to invoke the federal guarantee it could prove an embarrassment for the Indian government at a time when it is attempting to paint India as an attractive venue for foreign investment.Enron's move underscores difficulties faced by foreign investors dealing with India's state electricity boards. The boards, which are state-owned utilities, are generally corrupt to some degree, fail to collect their own bills from politically strong customers, and allow an average of one-third of the power they purchase to disappear from their transmission systems through theft and gifts to agricultural and other powerful interests.
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