In an exclusive interview with AfricanManager, the Director General of Mines at the Ministry of Industry, Sadok Ben Othmane, announced the establishment of a new strategy to solve the problems faced by CPG (Gafsa Phosphates Company) and GCT (Tunisian Chemical Group).
This strategy is based on certain axes, including the recruitment of 2,773 officers.
Speaking of Cotusal, he said efforts are ongoing to determine the exact rental value for the exploitation of maritime public domains.
He also announced the approval of 15 files related to salt exploration licenses in Chott el Jerid.
Do you have a strategy to save the CPG and avoid bankruptcy?
Faced with the rise of social discontent, especially in Om Laarayess and Redayef, a strategy is being developed to solve and in a structural manner the problems encountered for years.
This strategy is based on communication and continuity, while involving all stakeholders, including the supervisory ministry, political parties, social partners and the components of civil society.
To this end and in order to ease tensions, several actions were taken, namely the announcement of the preliminary results of a competition for the recruitment of 261 executives in the CPG and 346 others on behalf of the CGT and that, on July 1.
Meanwhile, a recruitment program will be announced the same day. It is a program spread over three years (2016-2018) to hire 2,773 agents, including 1,700 for the CPG and 1,073 for the CGT.
Besides the recruitment program, our strategy aims to activate environmental companies within the CPG, a subject that has fueled much controversy.
This is crucial in so far as we are working to strengthen the role of these companies generating over 11 thousand jobs so that they are able to contribute to economic development.
Other axes of the strategy, is the promotion of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) program targeting specifically CPG.
Indeed, this three-year program (2014-2016) was set up while devoting a budget of 20 million dinars annually to the achievement of this objective.
What are the losses recorded to date due to blocking of phosphate production?
The blocking of production in the phosphate sector between 2011 and 2016 caused losses of 5,000 million dinars, or 1,000 dinars per year.
With the implementation of this new strategy, do you have a specific date for the resumption of the activity?
Honestly no, but we combine efforts to overcome all the problems. Indeed, we have focused initially on the region of Om Larayess and Redayef, and work will continue to end social barriers.
In my view, the recovery in activity will be very soon, especially that all stakeholders have been involved in developing our new strategy. The goal is to resume productive activities with the same pace as in 2010, or more.
Do you have a plan to regain the confidence of international markets?
First, it should be noted that we have not lost markets; it is rather a temporary absence from the international scene because of lack of product.
Yet I assure you that we can recover our market share since Tunisia is known for the quality of its products.
Let’s talk about contracts for the sale of salt. What about the current situation, especially the case of Cotusal, the company that operates the Tunisian salt works since 1949, has long been the subject of controversy?
For the current stage, the Ministries of Agriculture and State Property are in the process of determining the exact rental value for the exploitation of maritime public domains.
This work will be completed by the end of next August.
Does your department plan to change the contract with Cotusal or suspend it?
This contract will end in 2029 and the signed agreement is still in force. Therefore, its review shall be conducted on time.
The number of companies producing salt in Tunisia is six including three Tunisian. Two new companies operating in this field will be created by 2017.
Salt production for 2015 is estimated at 1,350 million tons, posting an increase from 2014, 1,200 million tons.
For sale, it reached 1.25 million tons in 2015 against 1.05 million in 2014
Are there something new on applications for the operation of Chott el Jerid salt?
15 mining research permit applications have been approved by the Advisory Committee which met recently. The selected files involve salt exploration licenses in Chott el Jerid.
Are there any developments about the Sra Ouertane mine project?
Increased attention is paid to it. There have been several meetings in the ministry, in the presence of several experts in this field.
These meetings resulted in a series of measures that will be implemented on July 1, 2016.
These include the opening of a pilot front and the installation of a laboratory in Dahmani.
It was also decided to establish the headquarters of the company in the governorate of Kef.
Once these measures applied, it will be possible to determine the cost of the project.