UKIP Wales Leader Nathan Gill says the ongoing crisis at Port Talbot shows the Welsh Assembly’s ineptitude, and the UK’s weak position as a member of the EU.
Speaking from Brussels, Mr Gill says Business Secretary Sajid Javid should form an emergency task force to cut energy costs, but calls into question the "fist-banging" call for Public Ownership from the Senedd as ‘little more than a cynical PR stunt’
“It’s clear to me that all this eleventh-hour grandstanding could and should have been done much sooner to have a real effect on the future of Welsh steel.
“Things that could be done with immediate affect are still not happening and should have happened months, if not years ago. George Osborne could scrap his Carbon Price Floor which levies £18 per tonne of CO2 compared to the EU’s levy of £4 per tonne, and instead return energy costs ideally to levels on a par with the EU average, if not below, although this would mean essentially defying Brussels.
"We would like to see the Business Secretary Sajid Javid set up an emergency task force, with an observer from the Treasury, immediately looking into the possibilities of cutting energy costs to manufacturing.
“But even with these changes, we would still be labouring under EU regulations, including LCPD (Large Combustion Plant Directive) and now MCPD (Medium Combustion Plant Directive) vastly restricting our ability to produce our own high intensity energy output, as well as relying on the EU to set tariffs on cheap Chinese Steel dumping. While America levies 266% on steel imports, the EU has set the bar at 9%, and ironically, the Chinese themselves are now adding an import duty onto the type of steel made at the Port Talbot plant of 46%. You almost couldn’t make it up.
“It remains legally unclear how much the UK government can help Port Talbot under EU State Aid law and Competition Regulation. It’s all very well Carwyn Jones calling an emergency meeting of the Assembly and caterwauling about public ownership, but simply passing the plant into public ownership does not solve any of the problems. All it does is instead pass the culpability of the £1million loss per week onto the taxpayer, from Tata Steel.
"Since Carwyn Jones came to power, 2007, eight of the nine major metal ore refineries in Wales have now closed, the last being Port Talbot. His record in office is dismal and shows the ineptitude of the Assembly and a First Minister lacking the political conviction needed to tackle this prior to eleventh hour disaster.
“Carwyn Jones more interested in his public image and political grandstanding than actually doing anything that can have a positive effect. Otherwise more would, and should, have been done sooner.
"It is ironic that we are essentially now looking at ways for the UK taxpayer to prop up an Indian owned business, to enable it to be sold to another Indian owned business, while India is building new coal fired power stations at a staggering rate, with 455 new power plants ready to come online in the subcontinent, making them the world’s second largest consumer after China.
"Meanwhile Wales is sat on one of the richest coal seams in Europe, just behind Port Talbot in the Margam Hills, and cannot use that resource, while manufacturing is driven to economic ruin. Even if the US and Europe were to cut CO2 emissions by the targeted 20%, the total CO2 increase from Asia would offset it by a wide margin
"And of course, to add insult to injury, all the while the UK has been sending foreign aid to India at £279m per year, which could keep Port Talbot open for the best part of 9 months while a solution is sought. And even more ironically, India now has far more billionaires than the UK, the same billionaires we are now courting to buy the steelworks from Tata.
"It makes you realise quite how impotent the UK has become in running its own affairs and putting the interests of its own people first."