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Public purse puts Expo back on track

Both houses of parliament have now given the green light to the Expo credit Keystone Archive

Switzerland's national exhibition, Expo.02, has been pulled back from the brink of bankruptcy with a further bailout from the government.

One week after the House of Representatives approved additional funding worth SFr120 million, the Senate on Thursday followed suit.

The financial crisis was the latest in a series of problems which have beset exhibition organisers. Difficulties over the funding and management emerged in the planning stage, and led to the postponement of the exhibition from 2001 to this year.

The exhibition is scheduled to run for a period of six months from May to October.

The federal government was initially expected to provide SFr130 million in funding and a deficit guarantee of SFr20 million towards the national exhibition. Under the plan, the business community was to stump up the bulk of SFr800 million.

But despite several adjustments to the project, Expo.02 failed to impress the private sector, which is now only expected to contribute about SFr330 million.

To keep the project alive, the government has been forced to make up the shortfall, which has grown as the project has gone over budget. Ultimately, the cost to the public purse is expected to be in the region of SFr838 million.

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