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Kosovo: Trepça between two fires

Prishtinë, Apr 19, 2006 - Trepça will soon have an international administrator. The responsibility of this administrator is to deal with debt categorization, loans and prepare this giant complex for privatization.

The appointment of this administrator has, however, divided local officials into two groups, those pro and those contra the appointment.

KTA Board Member and Head of the Labor Unions (BSPK), Bahri Shabani, is categorically against the appointment of an international administrator. "I have not agreed with the way the administrator has been appointed. I did not agree with the last KTA Board meeting, when the tender was published, and I will not agree today, since we have not decided on the competencies this administrator shall have", stated Shabani.

"They want to privatize many units of Trepça to pay the debts of Trepça through privatization. We would have agreed to have an administrator only if he would come, not deal with the debts created during the 10 previous years", stated Shabani. "I will call on all workers of Trepça to be mobilized and not let him in at all. If they do not agree with this, I will still respect their stance”, stated Shabani.

"The main point is to give Trepça its working license, and to treat it as a socially owned enterprise", stated Shabani, who would support the privatization of several parts of Trepça, but not the privatization of its mines. "I am more angry with the representatives of the Government, than with the internationals", stated Shabani.

The Minister of Economy and Finances, Haki Shatri, who is also a member of the KTA Board, has a completely different view regarding the appointment of an administrator. "We have discussed the possibility of engaging a company which has good professional references to see if the debts presented are realistic or only claimed, and I do not see anything bad here", stated Shatri.

Apart from a new administrator, an advisory board shall be established in Trepça, but without any competency to decide on Trepça. The administrator shall be selected by the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court, the body this administrator will report to. Such an administrator would classify debts claimed.

Express sources have informed that a meeting will be held between the Government, the MEM and the KTA, where an official position of the Government on this issue will be declared. Meanwhile, Lorik Haxhiu, Director of the Mining Department at the MEM, has stated that the MEM does not have an official statement concerning the Trepça issue.

The Department of Energy and Mines within the Cabinet of Good Governance of the PDK is also against an administrator. "I can only presume in principle, since I do not know what this administrator will do and what his objectives are. Based on what I already know, this will only be an additional step towards the destruction of the mines. This story has been seen already with the ESBI, while Trepça is even more difficult, since it is a political and economic problem", stated Bajrush Xhemajli, Head of this Department.

"Debt figures are mentioned from 70 to 200 million Euros. In this case, this administrator is unnecessary and damaging for Kosovo’s economy, since I do not think this administrator will come to favor Kosovo’s economy. This administrator will work for the creditors, which have been unjustly created in the time when Serbia managed it", stated Xhemajli.

Neither the Trepça management, nor KTA officials made a statement on this issue, the former because they have to obtain permission from the KTA to speak to the media, while the latter justified it by saying that there will soon be a conference on Trepça to clarify positions on this issue.

Unionists accuse Trepça management for misuse
According to Koha Ditore the unionists of Trepça in Stan-Tërg request meanwhile the establishment of an independent commission to check the work of the management of this enterprise. "The main failures are in the local management of Trepça", stated Isuf Peci, member of the Labor Union of Stantërg Mine. They have also expressed their stands against the privatization of the mine and their fear that the new administrator will drive the mine towards bankruptcy.

The so accused Stantërg Mine Manager, Myftar Hyseni, also fearing bankruptcy, stated that the KTA has ensured them that the mine will continue to work. "The works in the mine are only in exploration stage, though we are producing what is possible. Until this month, we have produced over 3000 tons of ore, and we will achieve the plan for producing 7000 tons", stated Hyseni. He insisted that the management would put all efforts to prevent bankruptcy.

The Head of the Labor Union of Stantërg miners, Hasan Potoku, stated that in the time of Charles Brown, workers got only two salaries, and they could not even complain. Hazir Haziri, one of the Union representatives, accused the managers of not doing everything possible to achieve proper production. According to the Unionists, the Government has spent 60 million euros for the revitalization of this complex, but there was no transparency regarding these expenses.



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