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2013.08.01 09:17

Mazuronis: It would not be in Lithuania’s interests to receive a tag of “promise giver”

DELFI.lt 2013.08.01 09:17

Will Lithuania’s behaviour towards widely known companies such as Hitachi and Chevron have a negative impact determining Lithuania’s reputation in the eyes of foreign investors by characterising Lithuania as an unreliable country for investment? This issue was discussed in a talk show “Savaitė” on LRT TV, where its host Nemira Pumprickaitė spoke with a guest, the Minister of Environment, Valentinas Mazuronis, as published on www.delfi.lt. 

Will Lithuania’s behaviour towards widely known companies such as Hitachi and Chevron have a negative impact determining Lithuania’s reputation in the eyes of foreign investors by characterising Lithuania as an unreliable country for investment? This issue was discussed in a talk show “Savaitė” on LRT TV, where its host Nemira Pumprickaitė spoke with a guest, the Minister of Environment, Valentinas Mazuronis, as published on www.delfi.lt.

Nemira Pumprickaitė: For a while now the Government cannot find a solution regarding Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant. The current deadline imposed by the Prime Minister to make a decision regarding this issue is autumn.

Chevron is another unresolved issue. Even though Chevron shale exploration in Western Lithuania seemed to have been supported by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment, the competition that was bound to determine Americans as the winner was postponed till 16 September.

This postponement is by a request of Chevron itself. Is it not a pattern to have the laws altered during the competition and have no secondary legislation in operation; however, as soon as the winner is selected, a considerable amount of money has to be brought to the budget. The society is holding protests while the Government is not taking any determined steps. Will this behaviour towards widely known companies all around the world such as Hitachi and Chevron have a negative impact determining Lithuania‘s reputation in the eyes of foreign investors by characterizing Lithuania as an unreliable country for investment?

Nemira Pumprickaitė (NP): Do you share these fears?

Valentinas Mazuronis (VM): I wouldn’t say that such delay is some tragic event, even though I personally thought that the decision should have been made the previous week. I believe that all legislative regulations and laws are determined by the Seimas.

The Government makes a decision representing the State. A positive decision has to be made (which may be regarded negatively by some politicians), however, it has to be made. If some matter is being offered, in my personal opinion, arguments have to support the goal of reaching it. Nevertheless, in our case it is different; it is offered to not do anything. We search for arguments why nothing can be done, while still wishing to lead a better life.

NP: Let’s look at it from a different point of view – what if Chevron is announced as the winner? You say that these legislative regulations do not affect anything; however, I imagine that people are worried to not know how they will affect the future. It is sort of like buying a “cat in a bag”. How would you evaluate Chevron regarding their current position to not be announced as the winners? Maybe they never made such request and false information is being announced?

VM: Well a document with them making such request exists, but our State with a previous Government announced the competition. There are no legal reasons to not claim them as winners. In the end, the competition has to end in some way. I believe, neither Chevron nor any other company should impose such requests and demand how, when, where, to whom and what to do. What are we waiting for by not making any decisions? I think it is unfair.

NP: Minister, I believe that your deputy has to do something with it as well, because the commission, of which she was in charge, did not make the decision?

VM: The Vice was in fact in charge of the commission, however, other members of it including representatives of other ministries voted to postpone the decision making.

NP: Who are those people who voted against the decision making? Which ministries did they represent?

VM: Many various ministries, such as the Department of Justice, the Ministry of Economics, and undoubtedly, the Ministry for the Environment.

NP: And this 1.5 million, which Chevron supposedly has to pay in order to win the competition? Everybody says that’s the supposed amount. Will they really pay this amount of money to the budget?

VM: Until the end of the competition this amount is not announced, however, it is not 1.5 million.

NP: Is it a bigger amount?

VM: I believe it would be much bigger.

NP: Are there any consequences due to the fact that the competition was being held during the time the laws were being changed? In some way it is sort of like changing the conditions of the competition. Would Chevron bring this matter to the court and therefore we would be forced to pay compensation?

VM: The most important of these laws is the implementation of the evaluation of environmental impact. As you know, after this Chevron had a meeting with the Prime Minister. Chevron assured that these changes do not affect their decision and that the company still plans to participate in the competition. Therefore, there is no apparent problem. Thus, the only thing left is for us as a State represented by the Government to make a decision.

NP: Is there a general agreement regarding this issue in the Government?”

VM: I hope that the commission will present the proposition to the Government, then we shall see. We can see that things seem to be alright; however, a general belief is that a compromise has to be made with the society, even though in my personal opinion the main agreements and disagreements will become clear after the environmental impact evaluation.

NP: That is exactly how the Prime Minister put it this week – license for Chevron will not be given until the company makes peace with the society. How would you comment on this statement?

VM: I believe the Prime Minister is the one to comment on it. Chevron, or any other winner, before proceeding with the project, would have to carry out an environmental impact evaluation. One of the project’s important stages is coordination and we could only proceed when this stage is completed.

NP: Is it possible that the commission decides to nominate Chevron as the winner, however, the Government disagrees and says “no”?

VM: Yes, such a possibility exists.

NP: Is it likely to impact Lithuania’s future determining the country as having a poor reputation for investment, where decisions are being delayed?

VM: I believe that if the State once made commitments to carry out some projects, they have to fulfil them. If you start something, then leave it idle and start something else, leave that idle and start a third project, I believe in the countryside such people were called promise givers. It would not be in Lithuania’s best interests to receive such an image.