Acting Director of Aluminij d.d. Mostar Dražen Pandža gave an extensive interview with the editor-in-chief of Bljesak.info media Berislav Jurič. The text is published today, under the title " Situation in Aluminij is the result of many wrong decisions" and is transferred here in full:
"I took a hot potato when no one else wanted to. Whoever wants and thinks he can do better, can come and try", says Acting Director of Aluminij d.d. Mostar Dražen Pandža in his interview for Bljesak.info.
Ah he said the hot potato has brought him only problems and worries how to keep the former Herzegovinian giant alive. Pandža denied any allegations that the Federation of BiH Government gave a signal to solve the problem, and that the Russians and their gas were trying to be pull in through this story in Aluminij. He emphasised that, despite the variety of allegations and theories that had been attributed to Aluminij these days, they didn’t want to be a part of those stories that have nothing to do with the actual situation and the need to warn that Aluminij is a step away from a complete collapse.
"We are focused strictly on how to survive and we won’t be pulled in anything else! Our official positions and information available to the public are available on the official Aluminij website. After the alarm, we have still not received any answer, except for the public appeal of Mayor Ljubo Bešlić and addressing of the President Dragan Čović, which I appreciate. We have not received a reply from the Government of the Federation, and we do not have any information from last week's government meeting. We only have communication with Vice - President Jelka Milićević and we are in constant contact with her. We have her statement that she is working on solving this problem and it seems that she really tries to do her best to help us at this crucial moment. Unofficially, we know that the Government is working on certain measures, but, I repeat, we still do not have an official response", said Pandža.
He noted that he did not receive any information and did not know that the Vice – President received a green light for payment to help Aluminij, as it was published in some media.
Measures that do not mean life
''I talket to the Vice – President and I did not get that information from her. Unfortunately, neither the Minister nor the Prime Minister are currently in the state. They went on the official trip on Friday after the meeting of the Government and, according to our information, until this Friday there will be no Government session. At this session, these measures from the Friday’s letter should be considered. However, all these measures are not measures that would ensure life in this particular case. None of this will extend or provide a contract for el. energy for the next week. As repeated in media, all eyes are now really on the Government, which on Friday must bring a set of key measures to save Aluminij. If this is not done, and it’s about the set of measures of a completely different character than those proposed on Friday, we will not have a contract for electricity supply for next week if we do not manage on our own." Said Pandža.
He emphasizes that the published set of measures is not a solution.
"These measures will not save Aluminij. To focus only on debts, in this moment, means nothing to us. Even if we all of our debts have been settled we cannot find a modus for the current business. Debt restructuring was due to be resolved last year for us to enter this year clean, with no debts, so that we can provide the guarantees for the supply of electricity. Now, if we are to take the electricity, we will have to take the electricity at some prices that are so high that the survival and purpose of the work will be in question", he said.
Asked if the Federation of BiH Government is to be blamed, Pandža states that Government cannot be the only one to blame, but that those who have been in contact with Aluminij in the last 20 years bear the burden of responsibility.
"You cannot grant amnesty to anyone who has been in control of this factory, anyone in the Supervisory Board, any of the previous governments, none of this Government, any of the previous administrations or of this administration in all these 20 years. Everyone has some of their responsibilities. Perhaps some late or bad business decisions," he said, stressing that he does not want to talk about non-business decisions because it's "a matter of some other bodies"
"Everyone has some part of the responsibility, and if it was done without a mistake, we would not be in this problem. And when I say that this is the result of the many wrong decisions over these 20 years, then I do not give amnesty to both myself and the management in which I am. That would not be correct. If you don't make mistakes, you don't make anything and with a certain number of mistakes, there has certainly been some good actions and great success in running the company. Clearly, here I am talking about unintentional wrong actions and not amnestying any crime. If there was any and if it is proven, the responsible people must bear the consequences" he said.
Every story begins and ends with the electricity
He added that it is very difficult to plan long-term and short-term business in the circumstances when you do not know the price of the largest entry item for the next seven days, I'm clearly talking about electricity.
"Who will work with Aluminij when we do not know if we will have electricity for ten days. Who will come to invest in finalizing the product when one does not know if we can even produce metal, who will come to buy metal and do not know if Aluminij will work in the next 10 or 15 days? The beginning and end of every story with Aluminij is the contract for electricity! Every story starts, and every story ends with that contract", he said.
Responding to the question on the allegations that this is a scenario for Russian gas to enters the Mostar’s Company, Pandža says there were earlier media attempts to impose this story, as they have already denied that writing in detail.
"At this point Aluminij works as much as it can using gas as fuel. The only thing we can do is raise the level of re-melting in the Foundry to increase the re-melting of the solid material and to a lesser extent increase the gas consumption. We are close to maximum gas utilization and we cannot increase it much more. There is no, in the whole world, production in electrolysis where that gas is used as propulsion fuel. The person who would be able to find this technology would get the Nobel Prize. There is no technological possibility for electrolysis to work on gas!" He said, explaining that gas is used only in the Foundry and Anode plants and that it consumes a negligible part of total factory costs.
A story for the organs of state
Talking about media writing that some of the suppliers through Aluminij were "pulling out", Pandža says it is a "story that needs to be initiated by state authorities and state organs", but also that the current situation is that many suppliers do not want to work with Aluminij due to the inability of payment.
Asked to comment quotes of IOS confirmed to Bljesak.info portal that their supplier has drawn more electricity than agreed, Pandža says that there are certain imbalances.
"We reported as much electricity as our supplier could get, and it was because of the market circumstances that we had to pull larger volumes. We technologically cannot decrease production to smaller volumes", he said.
We asked Pandza to commented on the allegations of a group of shareholders about how he was the sole culprit, and he said that it is a malicious letter from a smaller group that does not even represent small shareholders at the Supervisory Board of the Company.
The victim of politics
"The other representatives of small shareholders who voted for the dismissal of the previous director were sitting in the Supervisory Board, just as, almost all representatives of the Government of the Federation and of the Republic of Croatia in this body voted. Can I be responsible for this? I did not name neither the previous director nor myself. There are bodies that are responsible for this. It was done by the Supervisory Board, by majority of votes. It is easy to check the inveracity of key allegations from this letter with FBiH Government representatives", said Acting Director of Aluminij.
Asked if Aluminij is a victim of politics and some kind of post-election sacrificial lamb, Pandža does not want to believe it, because the future of 900 people is at stake, and indirectly as many as 40,000 people.
"Politics should act in the direction of the Government, in the direction of legal provisions, in the direction of agreeing on more favourable electricity contracts, the politics that initiated the signing of Annex 8 should support implementation of this annex" said Pandža.
He pointed out that "Many things can be read these days and there are various statements that this is a political conflict."
"I cannot confirm any of this from this position. We are not included in all these events. We are trying to do business, find electricity, find money for suppliers, and pay wages to our workers. Numerous supporters have contacted us. The problem is that the Government is persistently silent. But it is not time and place for those who give support to us to exploit Aluminij for media and political competition. We want to be kept out of it. We do not want to be drawn into the political domain", said Pandža.
Who saved Aluminij?
Pandža points out that they were seeking and intervening before about a month and a half ago alerting all authorities and all the owners of Aluminij about the situation and asked them to help, to find a solution for this scenario not to happen
"We appealed in time and tried to warn everyone so that they are aware of the situation and what will happen. We have announced that we are so isnolvent that we will not be able to fulfil our obligations. We asked the Government for an intervention. It was time to react" said Pandža.
Asked who saved Aluminij on Monday, he said that it was a local partner who did not want to be named.
"It is not the first time that local partners have helped us," he said and emphasized that the media played a significant role as the public's attention turned to this issue.
All kinds of writings
Asked if the story was timed to not disrupt the political campaign in the state, Pandža said that the situation could culminate sooner or later, but they could not at all direct the development of the event. He pointed out that "Many things can be read these days and there are various statements that this is a political conflict”
"If we are not a company of a strategic importance, if we are not essential to the state, if we are not important to the Government, then it is fair to say it to us. Owners are the only authorized to bring, God forbid, the decision to shut down Aluminij. As the management, we cannot, make that strategic decision, it is not our mandate! I, as a citizen of Mostar who is born and raised here, to make such a decision? Never! This decision must be made by the owner. We can say what we need to survive and repeat that our only option and focus to keep Aluminij alive, Aluminij's business and preserve the jobs of our workers, as well as the overall socio-economic and political stability of the country. We will not give up!'', Pandža concluded for Bljesak.info.