The first Minister Pauline Marois wants to take advantage of the excess electricity to Hydro-Québec, that cost a fortune to the taxpayers, to attract new investment in Quebec.
Wednesday, in an interview with the Canadian press in Davos, Switzerland, where she is attending the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Ms. Marois indicated that, contrary to some stakeholders, including consumers Union, it “does not see negatively” Hydro surplus.
“Was planning at a time when the economy was growing,” said. The U.S. economy has collapsed because of the financial crisis. And we saw, of course, quit some markets. But these surpluses are available to attract investment Quebec and I believe that this is a comparative advantage which shall be used.”
In a report in November to the Energy Board, Hydro-Québec has quantified 28.5 hours (TWh) surplus available to it by the end of 2020. The increase is dramatic: two years ago, the Crown Corporation estimated its surplus to 11 TWh for the same period. Each year, Hydro pays about 500 million $ to buy electricity which it does not need, reason for dams and wind turbines erected in recent years at high prices.
In a speech to several dozen guests at Davos, Ms. Marois has put forward the low-cost electricity and “favourable tax” of Quebec.
And then, after referring to the enchanting setting of the Switzerland, she added: “Quebec, is also a beautiful country, with scenery breathtaking.
Several Canadian personalities from business and politics have come hear Pauline Marois, including John Baird, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Monique Leroux, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, Louise Arbour, President of the International Crisis Group, and Pierre Beaudoin, Bombardier’s President and CEO. On the other hand, there were few foreigners in the room. Yet, it was specially to them that Ms. Marois addressed in his speech.
Québec long attempting to attract investment by leveraging its natural wealth, hydropower. Although few concrete projects have however emerged. Aluminum plants are currently the main beneficiaries of the special contracts that give right to favourable electricity rates.
The PQ leader spoke Wednesday of the projects of shelters of computer data. When they were in power, the Liberals were reluctant to authorize these activities due to the relatively low number of jobs they create. But at least a major project, that of the French OVH, launched last year. It must be translated into some 127 million $ and the creation of hundreds of jobs at Beauharnois, Montérégie.
Pauline Marois argued that its presence in Davos was perfectly in the “economic strategy” of his Government to increase foreign investment. In its first budget, tabled in November, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau announced a “leave of tax” of 10 years for projects of at least 300 million $ in business sectors that are however not yet defined.
In Davos, where she stayed until Saturday morning, Ms. Marois must meet with leaders of the multinational ArcelorMittal, Volvo, Ericsson, Holcim, Alcoa, Lockheed Martin, Novartis and Merck. Volvo has an investment project in the sector of electric buses while Ericsson is considering reinvesting in its Montréal facilities, that are the largest outside Sweden, where its registered office is situated.
Pauline Marois will meet also with the Commissioner for the internal market of the European Union, Michel Barnier, with French Minister of economy and finance, Pierre Moscovici, and with the president of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, among others.
This is the third visit of Ms. Marois in Davos. She had visited in 2003 while she was Minister of finance and a few years ago to accompany her husband, Claude Blanchet, who ran the Société Générale de financement.
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