The Minister of Economic Development and Competitiveness, Arantxa Tapia, has said that the Basque Government does not have no agreement with ArcelorMittal so that the ACB de Sestao take advantage of public aid, and recalled that the company must contribute 75 percent of the cost of the investments it makes in order to receive subsidies.
At a press conference held today in Bilbao, the counselor has welcomed the reopening of the Compact Steelworks of Bizkaia, ACB, as of September 9, although working only on weekends and with half the staff.
The minister insisted today that the programs that ArcelorMittal can take advantage of are the same as for the rest of the companies in the Basque Country. These programs are open to all companies, and aid will be given to Arcelor if the projects it presents are of quality, but “there is no prior grant agreement,” he insisted. In addition, ArcelorMittal will have to request them for next year’s call, since this year’s call is closed.
Between four and five million euros
The ACB could benefit from aid for the training of workers, energy saving and, the most substantial, for research and development projects. In July, Arcelor informed the Basque Government that it had two R&D projects worth € 26 million. The grant awarded would be proportional to the eligible investment made, up to a maximum of 25%, so the company should put the remaining 75 percent to access these grants, the counselor confirmed today.
“The aid requires a significant investment from the company, and it has understood it that way,” concluded the counselor. Today it has not given figures, but in July it was advanced that the aid could range between four and five million euros.
Despite recalling these demands, the counselor has welcomed the reopening of the plant and has shown her “outstretched hand” to the company to ensure the future of the factory.
Congratulations to everyone, especially the workers
Tapia has especially congratulated the workers, for the effort made -with a temporary employment regulation file currently in force, they go to work only on weekends to take advantage of the cheapest electricity rate, since the ACB ovens work with electricity-, and only half of the workforce.
He also congratulated in a special way, also the local management of the ACB plant, for its commitment to continuity in a difficult situation, since it is part of a multinational, ArcelorMittal, “with its internal balances”.
“Among all”, committee, management, institutions, an important effort has been made, “because it could have led to another decision of another kind,” the counselor has warned.
Rementeria sees the reopening as “a first step”, but asks Arcelor for a “global” industrial plan
Meanwhile, the general deputy of Bizkaia, Unai Rementeria, has valued as “a first step” the decision of ArcelorMittal to reopen on weekends, but has asked the multinational for a “global” industrial plan for the Sestao plant.
After presiding over the first Government Council of the Provincial Council after the summer holidays, Rementeria has described it as an “essential first step” to guarantee the future of the plant, although it has stressed that the regional institution is committed to “fully recover” the factory’s production capacity.
The deputy has valued the intention expressed by ArcelorMittal to turn the ACB into a “benchmark” for research and development in steel mills and new products, but has demanded “more steps to guarantee viability and sufficient production to ensure the future of the plant in the medium and long term “. In this sense, it has once again asked ArcelorMittal for a “global” industrial plan to generate “sufficient” activity and “quality” employment.
Finally, it has expressed the disposition of the Diputación de Bizkaia to to collaborate with the company and the workers “to guarantee the future of a fundamental plant for Ezkerraldea, for Bizkaia and for Euskadi”, especially in areas of its competence such as tax deductions that could be applied in R + D + i projects.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.