The Minister of Public Works, Urban Planning, Housing and Transportation of the Government of Aragon, Rafael Fernández de Alarcón, found after reaching the presidency of the Board of Directors of the public company Plataforma Logística de Zaragoza (Plaza), in 2011, certified works without finishing and “inadequate price revisions” for a total of 104 million euros, according to a report.
He was the first to appear this Wednesday before the Investigation Committee of the Cortes de Aragón on the management of this public company, in a day in which also will appear the deputy mayor of Zaragoza, Fernando Gimeno, and the rest of the current members of the Advice.
Fernández de Alarcón has expressed that the new legal team has found contracts of sale whose clauses “did not seem to us the most convenient for the economy of the society”. He has disagreed with the 104 million euro certification, noting that “inadequate” price revisions have been carried out.
“Apart from unfinished works, there were works at higher prices, above what I owed or price reviews insufficiently justified.”
The head of Public Works and the rest of the Council considered that it was an “obligation” to carry out checks “when we had evidence that the complaints received from third parties could be true”, a process that “has not been pleasant and we would have liked to avoid” .
He pointed out that not all the pending certifications were made and some were not signed by those who habitually fulfilled this task. As an example, he commented that a video surveillance service had been hired that cost three million euros and that “it was not over”.
In his opinion “the modified -of contracts- has been used above the limits”, an example of which is that there are some first contracts initially valued at 70 million that later cost more than 200.
The counselor has continued stating that the audit of the General Audit of the Autonomous Community for 2011 “was not too relevant” and “does not seem to determine anything positive”, insisting that the Council has always been informed of important reports .
In another vein, said that the managers of the Intecsa-Inarsa advisory company “do not work and do not propose anything” since October 2011, so the current manager of Plaza, Jesus Andreu, has tried to collaborate with the current advice, contacting the management in Madrid and Canada. The resolution of the contract is in process.
Fernández de Alarcón explained that in October 2011 he received a debt of more than 150 million euros that could bring the company into bankruptcy, so “it was necessary to renegotiate the short-term debt with exclusive guarantees from the Government of Aragon”.
The Regional Executive Councilor has asserted that “we have been paying an important part of the debts we had with the suppliers” and that a syndicated loan worth 110 million has been signed, contributing more than 30 so far. The Government is renegotiating the debt of the company to avoid the bankruptcy that would be “inevitable” if it were not restructured.
He commented that the sanitation plan will need a “new financing of the partners in the coming years” and that to get Plaza to be the logistics center of south-western Europe it is necessary that public administrations finance it.
Another objective, when starting his term in Plaza, has outlined the Minister of Public Works, has been “urgently meet the commercial commitments approved in previous Councils, as they were written, put us in the grave situation of increasing losses real. ” For example, the execution of works was pending to obtain that Decathlon could have the municipal license that allowed him to be installed.
The legal advice of the company was also changed, which “was not the most appropriate”, and an agreement was signed with the General Directorate of Legal Services.
Another action has been to negotiate with the contractors “so that they would lower us the promissory notes that they had”. Likewise, the commercial team has been maintained and strengthened and “we have reduced prices, we have done things”, although “we have not had more success than other logistics areas in Spain”.
Rafael Fernández de Alarcón has referred that the crisis has led to a devaluation of real estate values, “a reality that has caught more companies that had risked more.”
He has defended the hiring of the current manager of Plaza, Jesus Andreu, indicating that to choose him he interviewed about ten people and that the selected professional had been head of the Housing Rehabilitation Service of the regional government and director in Aragon of an important real estate.
Plaza has two limits, the counselor continued, the first of them “know where we are going” and the second “avoid when you do some projects and they tell you that doing this business costs 150 million, if it then costs about triple, a plan of business that is not well done “.
Now the Board of Directors works so that Plaza “is more attractive for companies, to improve accessibility, get a second locomotive” in addition to the first one, in express reference to Inditex. In general, Fernández de Alarcón intends to “create activity and employment”.
The new Council has worked “to strengthen legal advice, refinance debt, reduce costs and risks and improve the attractiveness” of society, which “must be cleaned up” to make it more competitive for the next decade. The director has dispensed with the Executive Committee of previous years, deleting it.
He has considered that sufficient information is being given to reach the agreements, although he has acknowledged that “there are times when the information reaches the Council at the last moment”. The Council “is absolutely explained everything.”