Romanian Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian has said that he wishes to avoid another media circus over the Oltchim chemical plant and that the government is seeking European Commission (EC) approval to grant the factory state aid. Speaking yesterday (February 18 ), he also expressed concern that extreme protests at the plant, including hunger strikes and suicide threats, could scare off potential investors.
Vosganian is due to meet the commissioner for competition Joaquin Almunia in Brussels today (February 19 ). The Romanian minister met Almunia and other EC representatives last week and the local media reports that the government is requesting approval for some EUR 45 million in state aid for Oltchim in the much delayed and still ongoing privatization process of the state owned facility. “I don’t want Oltchim to turn into a media show, like last autumn,” said Vosganian, referring to the failed privatization attempt last year in which media mogul and People’s Party leader Dan Diaconescu won the bid with an offer of EUR 45 million. The privatization collapsed when Diaconescu did not pay the EUR 45 million, equal to the amount the government has asked permission to grant in state aid.
As well as the ongoing attempt to gain EC approval for state aid, Vosganian urged regular meetings between management, government and unions involved with Oltchim. “I think that Oltchim deserves something better Oltchim than headlines in the media. I believe there must be an atmosphere of sober responsibility among all those involved with the chemical plant,” said the minister.
(photo source: gov.ro)