Red light for Thermo Plant TEŠ 6?
The motion that is to pave the way to the mega project TEŠ6, whose value was last estimated at EUR 1.3bn, was removed from the agenda of today's meeting of the Finance and Monetary Policy Committee at the request of the coalition parties.
The relevant committee was to discuss the opposition-sponsored bill after the National Assembly passed it at first reading on 19 April.
According to the committee's chair Andrej Šircelj of the ruling Democrats (SDS), the coalition has decided to take it off the agenda because it had not received any assurances from TEŠ and its owner, state-controlled power utility HSE, that the conditions set by the government would be met.
The conditions, which include the lowering of the total costs of the project, setting of the deadline for its conclusion, and concrete data on the its profitability as well as reduction of CO2 emissions, were set as early as in February, but the government officially inserted them in the bill last week.
"We found that these conditions have not been fulfilled yet and we do not have sufficient assurances that they will be met," Finance Minister Janez Šušteršič said.
Šircelj told the press before today's session that the government had received a letter from HSE and TEŠ that the conditions would be met but stressed that the government wanted to "have this written in no uncertain terms" before it approves the guarantees for a EUR 440m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
According to the state secretary at the Ministry for Infrastructure and Spatial Planning, Igor Šalamun, HSE and TEŠ said in a 17 May letter that the price for the installation of the main technological equipment was not set yet. Moreover, there are reportedly no guarantees that the project would be finished as scheduled.
HSE and TEŠ told the press on Tuesday that they had sent several documents to relevant ministries showing how the government's conditions would be met in a bid to speed up the process of obtaining the state guarantees.
The main supplier of equipment for the new generator, French energy company Alstom, has threatened TEŠ it would put on hold all of its operations if the state fails to provide the guarantees by 20 May, according to a March report by the business daily Finance.
Šircelj said that it was possible for the National Assembly to go through the second and third reading at the same session next month. "But first we must get the assurances that the conditions set by the government will be met." Elaborating on this, he said that "contracts must be signed and valid".
According to Šircelj, the state guarantees are not the only condition for the project to be implemented. He added that it could be financed from other sources on the marked or by a new partner. "In short, there are many options," he said.