Maribor, 02 July (STA) - TAM Durabus, a Chinese-Dutch joint venture that re-launched bus production in the city of Maribor in spring last year, was promised long-delayed state aid "shortly" as the outgoing prime minister and economy minister visited the company on Wednesday.
"Things got complicated last year but we've successfully resolved the matter...The money will be transferred to the company's account shortly," Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek told company executives.
Under a scheme for incentives for foreign direct investment, TAM Durabus was granted nearly EUR 3.5m in state aid last year. It should have received half of the amount in the first half of 2014 and the rest in the final quarter.
"The case has been evaluated now and will be submitted to the government within two weeks," said Economic Development and Technology Minister Metod Dragonja, who said approval of the grant fell within the scope of caretaker duties of the outgoing government.
TAM Durabus currently employs 148 workers and director Holger Postl said the grant would help the company accelerate development, which is crucial if it is to remain competitive. "For a medium-sized company like us, it is very important to be ahead of the competitors," he said.
Postl said the investors were "very pleased". "We've shown that cooperation between Chinese investors and Slovenian employees in management and production can be successful," he said after the meeting.
Bratušek pointed out that workers were pleased with the conditions as well as the wages. "Slovenians will have to realize that foreign capital is not necessarily bad; foreign investors can be good," she said.
TAM Durabus, which is in majority ownership of the Chinese firm CHTC and is the first Chinese foreign investment in Slovenia, relaunched bus production in April 2013 on the site of the once famed producer of buses and lorries TAM by buying the bankruptcy assets of TAM successor TVM.