The government has decided to direct €340 million from the European Union Just Transition Fund to Ida-Viru County in its entirety, as a measure towards climate-neutral economy goals. €250 million will go on investments and creating new jobs and building industrial parks. Oil shale entrepreneurs are skeptical about the plans, however-
At the end of December, the previous coalition decided to widen the target area of the Just Transition Fund's money. Neighboring counties of the Ida-Viru county could have claimed on the €340 million. The new coalition decided to continue with the preliminary plan, however.
Minister of Public Administration, Jaak Aab (Center), said that the government will make a decision in the upcoming weeks to not apply for extending the territory on which the money from the Just Transition Fund will be used, and the money will continue to go entirely to Ida-Viru County.
The preliminary transition program is waiting for the approval of the government, which means that the proposals of entrepreneurs, local governments and trade unions have been heard. According to the current plan, €250 million will go to developing entrepreneurship and creating new jobs.
"The industrial park organization does great work and more companies have come there. There have been 800 jobs created at the industrial parks. Ida-Viru County programs' industrial investments have created around 200 jobs, and these activities have to be continued," Aab said.
A representative of the association of chemical industries, Ahti Asmann, however criticized the purpose of the industrial parks. In his opinion, these haven't proved themselves over the past 10 years. Turnover earned is too small compared with the money lost from the fossil fuel industry [when it winds up]. We should think more broadly," Asmann noted.
"The oil shale industry currently has €1.5 billion of assets, and €340 million next to it is a small amount. The more we find that at least 90 percent of this sum should be put to attracting industrial investments to the region. The measures need to be designed to make it possible for the measures to be attractive for the realization of great sponsors or projects," Asmann said.
Aab said that a significant part of the subsidy should on retraining those people who lost their jobs. Regardless of the fact that the transition to a climate-neutral economy is inevitable, the government won't close the Narva power station in the next 10 to 15 years. This ensures the electricity supply when the weather is as wintery as it is at the moment.
Editor: Roberta Vaino