Finland set to support its shipyards.
THE Finnish government has made a declaration to help its country"s beleaguered shipyards achieve orders of ?500m ($698m).
The country"s three main yards, owned by STX Europe, are facing a lack of orders, with the largest at Turku in line to become empty at the end of the year when Royal Caribbean"s Allure of the Seas is delivered.
Over 400 workers at Turku are under risk of redundancy as the building of the second of two giant cruiseships nears completion.
A task force set up in September last year presented its report to the ministry of economic affairs, Mauri Pekkarinen, two weeks ago, proposing a package of measures designed to support the country"s yards.
The report said: ?The support and financing measures planned by the task force are designed to create a workload of approximately 50% for the STX Finland shipyard in Turku, which would allow the shipyard and its satellite companies to remain operational until until market based demand returns to normal levels.?
The report also suggests vessel orders from the government aimed at providing support for some of the country"s smaller shipyards, which are building mostly small work boats such as pilot cutters and survey ships.
Ministry of Employment and Economic director Risto Paaermaa said the government has decided that it must do something to try and save the country"s shipbuilding industry from ruin.
?We have not agreed any subsidies, we have just said that certain types of public measures might be appropriate, such as for innovation funding approved by the European Commission, and finance guarantees where we have programmes available,? he said.
A third approach being considered by the government is a scheme to encourage shipowners to use the shipyards for environmental purposes, again in accordance with EU rules.
?This is a kind of declaration that we are prepared to do some reasonable measures which are according to European regulations to get some orders, especially to Turku,? said Mr Paaermaa.
?We have discovered that many countries have supportive measures, even in the European Union, and that is why we can not just sit and wait, we want an active approach,? he said, insisting though that no money has been promised to the STX or to any Finnish company.