The opposition criticises the fact that the analysis on the advantageousness of state aid to U.S. Steel Košice (USSK) is confidential. The document was submitted to the session of the economic parliamentary committee by the Economy Ministry.
“The analysis should show whether the aid for this company is advantageous for the state or not,” said Jana Kiššová, chair of the committee, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “We were surprised to receive this analysis in a confidential regime, which means that it will not be possible to discuss it publicly.”
The MPs have the right to learn more about the analysis, but Kiššová does not consider it enough.
“The members of the economic committee can scrutinise the analysis and take notes in a special exercise book, but they cannot take it from the room,” the MP said, adding that they consider such conditions absurd. “We do not talk about placing some ballistic missiles, but about the analysis which should inform the public whether the state is economical or not.”
Keeping U.S. Steel in Slovakia brought the country hundreds of millions of euros, commented Economy Minister Peter Žiga (Smer). The government’s decision to persuade the biggest employer in eastern Slovakia not to leave was right, he added.
“Since this memorandum came into force, the yields of the state budget and public budgets amount to €697 million, while the outcomes of the public budgets amount to €10 million,” Žiga said, as quoted by SITA.
He added that the steelmaker observes the memorandum, though some employees have been dismissed due to restructuring. The dismissals, however, have not been mass layoffs, he added.
Kiššová commented that the analysis is amateurish.
Sale rumours emerge
American steelmaker U.S. Steel stated at the end of last year that it wants to stay in Slovakia. Head of the company Mario Longhi said at a meeting with the government that the company can stay in the country thanks to the five-year memorandum signed in March 2013, which offers USSK several favourable conditions, SITA wrote.
The Bloomberg newswire, however, reported that U.S. Steel may sell its Košice plant, given recent upward movement in European steel prices. The price may amount to $800-900 million (about €700-800 million).
One of the firms reportedly interested in the plant could be Chinese company CEFC which already owns Czech football club Slavia Praha and owns shares in Travel Service airlines and J&T Financial Group. Except for it, also representatives of the Russian firm Metalloinvest and an unknown Chinese company came to see the USSK premises during the summer, the Sme daily reported.
The Americans do not comment on the potential sale.
“We always fulfil out commitments,” USSK spokesperson Ján Bača told Sme, without any other details.
If U.S. Steel wanted to sell the Košice plant, the state would be interested in obtaining some shares, Žiga repeated. However, the Economy Ministry does not have any information about negotiations between the steelmaker and a potential investor, he added, as reported by SITA.
21. Sep 2016 at 6:30 | Compiled by Spectator staff