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One of Romania’s major chemical aggregate works, Oltchim of Ramnicu Valcea, in southern Romania, that was declared insolvent last month because of its huge debt of hundreds of millions of Euros, is on the list of the state-owned companies that need to be privatised. The list has been agreed on with the International Monetary Fund and other international lenders and includes companies with big financial problems.
In the case of Oltchim, a first attempt to sell its majority stake failed last year. Romanian authorities want to go ahead with the privatisation process, but are looking for a strategic investor. Meanwhile, a solution has to be found to the desperate situation of Oltchim’s over 3 thousand employees, who, over the past few months, have been staging rallies and strikes. They have threatened with more protests unless the government commits itself to securing their jobs, paying their due wages and resuming production.
Romanian Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian has met with representatives of the employees and has told them he cannot rescue Oltchim all by himself, without the support of the ruling Social Liberal Union and of trade unions and without social peace. Minister Vosganian has pointed out that no investors would take over a plant whose employees have gone on hunger strike and who threaten to set themselves on fire on their payday. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Victor Ponta believes that Oltchim might become productive again but only after a thorough reform.
Victor Ponta: “I don’t think that anybody can make Oltchim profitable again and at the same keep all its 3 thousand employees. But I believe an important part of the works can be saved by private investment and by doing away with all unproductive contracts.”
The Liberal Democratic Party, the main opposition party, have blamed the government for the Oltchim’s situation and have announced they will table a motion on this issue. According to the Liberal Democratic Party’s leader Vasile Blaga, the whole situation is nothing but another proof that during last year’s election campaign the Social Liberal Union made promises they cannot keep.
Vasile Blaga: “For over 8 months now, the USL governments have been making a fool of Oltchim. I want to remind you that in the first months of the first Ponta government, after the privatisation process had started, they changed the privatisation terms, and did away with the provision that the selling of the majority stake was possible only with a strategic investor involved. Furthermore, they still want to privatise it, but before that, they have declared it insolvent, which allows them to give it almost for free to their friends. They want to do the same thing with CFR Marfa, the freight division of the Romanian Railways Company.“
On the short term, the Oltchim employees hope that the 45-million Euros requested by the Romanian authorities from the European Commission, needed to resume production, will be granted. Source: Radio Romania International
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