29 June 2005


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FOI confirms industry’s concern on Sea Malta privatisation

James Debono

Concerns over the privatisation of Sea Malta have been mounting in industrial circles with FOI Director General Wilfred Kenely yesterday confirming that the federation received a number of letters from companies expressing their concern.
Multigas, mentioned by Labour Leader Alfred Sant as one of the companies that raised serious concerns over Sea Malta’s privatisation, was only one of a number of companies which have written to the FOI.
Sea Malta currently provides its ships for the importation of regular consignments of gas to Multigas.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, Opposition leader Alfred Sant revealed that Multigas wrote a strongly worded letter to the Federation of Industry.
In this letter Multigas warned that it would face serious consequences if the privatisation of Sea Malta did not include sufficient guarantees to ensure a regular supply of imported gas.
Concern on Multigas’ fate increased after the publication of an interview with Emmanuele Grimaldi, the managing director of Grimaldi Naples in yesterday’s edition of The Times.
Grimaldi made it clear that the Public Service Obligation is not enough to ensure the continuation of the service presently offered by Sea Malta. This service is mainly offered to Multigas for the transport of hazardous gases. Grimaldi added that a compromise was reached on this issue but he did not divulge any details.
During yesterday’s press conference Alfred Sant expressed his concern that ST microelectronics, Malta’s leading employer, will also suffer if Multigas is negatively effected by the privatisation deal. The gas importation company is a main supplier of ST Microelectronics.
Wilfred Kenely added that apart from supplying ST Microelectronics, Multigas is also a main supplier for the health sector and for soft drinks manufacturers.
The FOI Director General insisted that FOI had asked its members to state their concerns on the privatisation of Sea Malta.
“Multigas was just one of a number of companies who raised their concerns,” Kenely told this newspaper.
The main concern of these companies according to the FOI Director General is that Sea Malta will continue giving them the same efficient service it is giving them now.
Asked whether these concerns were raised with Minister Austin Gatt, Wilfred Kennely replied that FOI has had a number of meetings with the Minister and that the “government is aware of the concerns expressed by FOI members.”
Asked whether the Maltese government is adequately addressing the concerns of local manufacturers, Kennely expressed satisfaction that the government has acted on the FOI’s recommendations.
“The government has committed itself to include our concerns in the negotiations with the foreign buyers.”

jdebono@newsworksltd.com



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