FIB Defers Loans of Stranded Bulgarian Lead-Zinc WorkersBusiness | June 24, 2012, Sunday // 14:33| views
The Minister of Economy and Energy, Delyan Dobrev, says the Bulgarian government cannot force any buyer to purchase private property in the country. Photo by BGNES
Workers at the largest Bulgarian producer of non-ferrous metals, the Lead and Zinc Complex (LZC; OTZK) in the southern city of Kardzhali, will be able to get deferred payments on their loans from one bank until they receive the salaries owed to them.
The information was reported Sunday by the Minister of Economy and Energy, Delyan Dobrev. Speaking for the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, Dobrev informed he held talks with the management of the creditor First Investment Bank, FIB, regarding the loans.
One day after the trade unions accused FIB of condemning the complex by placing distraint on its equipment, the bank's management and the syndicalists met and reached an agreement on the differed repayments for all workers having loans from the bank.
"Not having to pay now does not mean you don't have to pay the full amount at all. You will have to do so in the future and a solution must be found ASAP. Regretfully, in this case, the State has very few mechanisms of inclusion in the process. It cannot force a certain buyer to purchase the complex," the Minister explained.
He reiterated the negatives of stopping the production process, adding the Polish consortium Silesia is still interested in leasing the complex with an option to acquire it later.
Dobrev pointed out that Silesia did not want to make a purchase right away on grounds they were in the dark about details regarding the financial state of the Bulgarian company. He stated that the known debt of BGN 300 M to banks might not be the full amount of debt.
FIB, on their part, declared they want a working plant with a new management and a new owner to modernize the equipment so that the bank can recuperate its investments and workers can get their pay.
FIB is owned by notorious Tseko Minev, whose name made headlines in Bulgaria recently, after the Parliament passed the controversial Forestry Act. The amendments, seen by many as lobbyist and benefiting Minev and a handful of other shady businessmen, triggered mass protests in the capital Sofia.
Meanwhile, the problems in Kardzhali have been festering since March 2012. The workers at the plant, owned by Valentin Zahariev, have not received their salaries in 6 months now, provoking their own protest rallies.
After the government interfered, they were paid a 1.5 monthly salary right before Easter. At the time, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, personally promised them a new owner, to be found in 2 months. The only interested investor remaining is Silesia.