Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

KREMIKOVTSI AND BDZ CHUCK UP 255,000 TONS OF METALS

Alexander Tomov, Deputy Chairman of Kremikovtsi Supervisory Board, denied allegations that Kremikovtsi may be an obstacle for closing the Competition Chapter of the negotiations with the European Union (EU). The chapter stipulates that a plan for restructuring companies in the steel industry be prepared. The managers of Kremikovtsi said that right now experts are preparing this plan. However, they do not accept the scheme recommended by Brussels for reducing the production capacity in return to state subsidies. Managers reminded that the agreement for privatisation of Kremikovtsi did not stipulate such condition. According to Alexander Tomov, the government has not yet cleared if such subsidies have been launched, because the EU treats the cancelation of debts to the treasury as a form of state subsidies. That's why Kremikovtsi must either pay off its debts to the National Insurance Institute and the state budget, or reduce its production. In the meantime, the conflict between Kremikovtsi and the Bulgarian State Railways company (BDZ) is running high. According to Alexander Tomov, Kremikovtsi has lost BGN75MN as a result from BDZ's bad service. The combine suffered damages as its cargo transportation agreement with BDZ was unilaterally broken on September 25, 2002. Since then, BDZ tariffs have grown by 40-45%, Bozhko Bonev, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, said. This is the first time the two companies work this way, he added. Alexander Tomov accused the railway company of failing to transport products of Kremikovtsi in 10,000 wagons and thus making the Bourgas loose goods wharf a warehouse. There were 255,000 tons of old stock there in June.The combine debts to BDZ are an obstacle for our ordinary operations, the managers of the railway company claimed. According to BDZ Executive Director, Georgi Neshev, Kremikovtsi owes BGN14MN to the railways. Besides, their cooperation causes only losses to the state company, as the combine provides 30% of the transported cargo, while its contribution to the revenues of BDZ is three times lower. However, Alexander Tomov claimed that Kremikovtsi has only current liabilities to BDZ and has paid off its old debts.He proposed that a new agreement at lower prices be signed by the two companies. The gap in the cargo costs according to the old and the new agreements will be compensated by Kremikovtsi as it repairs BDZ wagons free of charge.The managers of Kremikovtsi are also planning to establish a special company that will take up the transportation of its cargo. The applications for a private carrier licence have been submitted to the Railway Cargo Agency on May 17. Then the agency asked the company for some explanations on the submitted documents, as well as for certification of its wagons. Now all documents are perfect, Bozhko Bonev said.

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