Working group: no pulp without paper

  • 2003-07-10
  • Baltic News Service

Latvia will demand the potential pulp mill investor to build a paper factory too in Latvia alongside the pulp mill construction, Deputy Prime Minister Ainars Slesers told reporters July 2 following a meeting of the government working group on the project.
He said the Finnish investor, Metsaliitto, also had expressed an idea of building a paper factory sometime in a more distant future but clear guarantees were needed that it would indeed be done, said Slesers.
Production of paper alongside pulp would provide much greater economic effect by reducing paper imports, raising Latvia's export and improving the situation of Latvia's economy in general.
Paper production also is a meaningful argument for environment protection experts to agree to construction of the much debated factory, explained the deputy prime minister.
He said though a paper factory would increase the project costs and volume significantly, financial problems were unlikely to occur.
"I believe any bank in Latvia will be ready to [finance] this project. Money will always be found," Slesers noted.
The pulp mill construction is planned in Ozolsala, in eastern Latvia. Total investments are envisioned at some 900 million euros, making it the largest investment in Latvia so far.
The plant, with a planned capacity of 600,000 tons of pulp a year, would secure 350 jobs, with even more benefit on the local construction industry.
He predicted Latvia's demand regarding paper production should not trigger a negative reaction by investors or a refusal to carry out the project.
"It [paper production] would be of benefit for them," said Slesers.
However, a "certain change in the attitude though could appear" because Latvia would thus cease importing paper from Scandinavia, he added.
The working group also agreed that, while supporting such a project, there must be full conviction that no hazard will be caused to the mill and factory's environment, and that investors will have to provide precise description as to what technologies will be used in pulp production.
"We will support technologies of advantage not to investors, but to Latvia. Technologies that would reduce possible hazards to the environment to a minimum," Slesers said.
Considering the latest proposals the working group is not yet ready to hand to the government for consideration its position regarding the possible state's support to the pulp mill project, as was previously planned.
Interestingly, plans for the pulp mill have lost support among the population, with only 38 percent of those surveyed by the SKDS pollster now supporting the project.
The survey showed that 47 percent are against the project, while 15 percent were undecided.
Two years ago 46 percent of those surveyed supported the pulp mill, while 35 percent were against and 19 percent undecided.