12 FEBRUARY 2003

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Another boomerang for Sant as company denies EU threat

By Kurt Sansone

The managing director of one of the companies mentioned as standing to lose from EU accession by Labour leader Dr Alfred Sant last Sunday, has described the statements made by the Opposition leader as a "misunderstanding".

In a statement issued yesterday, Pharmamed, one of the companies on Alfred Sant’s hit list, denied that it would face an uncertain future if Malta joined the EU.

Contacted by The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday, Pharmamed managing director Steinthor Palsson said that since its acquisition by Icelandic company Delta in 2001, Pharmamed has undergone a restructuring process to bring its practices in line with EU pharmaceutical standards.

"Delta’s main markets are in the EU and for Pharmamed to be able to export to these countries products have to comply with EU standards," Mr Palsson said.

Palsson explained that since the take over in 2001 Delta’s intention has been to utilise Pharmamed as a production facility for its range of products. Irrespective of whether Malta joins the EU or not, the company still has to bring its practices in line with EU legislation to be able to export products to its main markets, most notably Germany and the UK.

He said Pharmamed employees have been constantly informed of what was going on. "Alfred Sant’s comment must be based on a misunderstanding," Mr Palsson remarked.

The company has invested heavily, not only in the factory, but also on training since 2001, he added. The Bulebel-based pharmaceutical company said when Delta decided to invest in Malta it did so with the full knowledge that the country may be a member of the EU by 2004.

Talking to this newspaper, Palsson insisted that Pharmamed and Delta had no intention of getting involved in Maltese politics, but said the statement made last Sunday by the Opposition leader warranted an explanation.

Alfred Sant’s company name-game entered its third phase on Sunday and it has already boomeranged once. When mentioning the difficulties that the wine industry would be facing due to the EU’s wine labelling regulations, Dr Sant forgot to say that under a free trade agreement the same strict regulations would have to apply for Maltese wine.



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