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Horta ,  May 09, 2019

Regional Government defends maintenance of Santa Catarina plant on São Jorge, says Gui Menezes

The Regional Secretary for the Sea, Science and Technology restated at the Legislative Assembly in Horta that the Regional Government "has always defended the importance of Santa Catarina plant for São Jorge and for the municipality of Calheta." On the occasion, he added that this importance is evidenced by the purchase of this cannery by Lotaçor in 2009, "precisely to safeguard jobs "and ensure its maintenance on the island.
"In 2009, Santa Catarina was not operating. It had overdue contracts and its financial situation was very serious," said Gui Menezes, noting that the Government "shares the concern, first and foremost, to safeguard the jobs" of the plant's workers.
The Regional Secretary spoke Wednesday during the debate on a draft resolution, which was rejected, for the adoption of measures towards the protection of jobs at Santa Catarina cannery.
According to Gui Menezes, the Regional Government "has already demonstrated at the meeting of the Council of São Jorge Island and at the plenary session" that the maintenance of the plant on São Jorge and the safeguarding of jobs "are preconditions to be included in the project specifications"; the latter is yet to be concluded.
In his speech, the Regional Secretary stressed that "it is necessary to look at the path followed by the company since it was acquired by the Region." In this regard, he recalled that the number of workers grew from 90 to about 140, mostly women, and that the business turnover increased from about 1.3 million to more than eight million Euros.
"Although the 2018 report is not yet concluded, it is estimated to have been one of the best years for the company," noted the Regional Secretary.
"The net value per can has been growing as a result of marketing efforts, the prestige of the brand and the quality of the products," the government official said, noting that "the revenue increased 18% from 2015 to 2017 with the same number of cans sold."
In regard to exports, Gui Menezes also stated that Santa Catarina "is the cannery that exports the most to the intra and extra-community market."
"The path followed by this plant is the result of efforts undertaken by its managers and, mainly, by its workers who have dedicated themselves to the company. Hence, Santa Catarina is recognised as one of the most renowned in the national canning industry," stated the Regional Secretary.
However, the government official stated that "the company needs to be recapitalised and privately managed to be viable and gain access to Community funds." In this context, he stressed that the public sector business reform under implementation by the Regional Government intends to ensure the feasibility of Santa Catarina cannery and maintain the respective jobs.
The Regional Secretary also recalled that, due to the competition rules, "there are limitations" regarding the Regional Government's intervention in companies. As he noted, "due to the fact that Santa Catarina is a public company, being the Region the sole shareholder, it is considered a large enterprise" and, therefore, not eligible for Community support under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
In his speech, Gui Menezes also stated that, even though the Azorean canning industry faces additional costs due, for example, to the import of cans and olive oil, the national canning industry is currently "facing a shortage of workers and one of assets of the Azores is precisely the skilled labour in the area of tuna processing."
The Regional Secretary stressed that the regional canning industry "employs around 900 workers, ensures the feasibility of tuna fishing in the Azores and annually processes nearly 20 tonnes of tuna; its turnover exceeds 70 million euros per year."
"The Regional Government is well aware of the importance of this industry and, within its reach, will do everything to maintain it in the Region and render it viable," said Gui Menezes.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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