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Expo.02 to reveal whether government financing conditions have been met

The government is to receive a key report today which will help determine whether the planned national exhibition, Expo.02, goes ahead. The government is to deliver its verdict by mid-February.

This content was published on January 20, 2000 - 10:04

The government is to receive a key report today which will help determine whether the planned national exhibition, Expo.02, goes ahead. The government is to deliver its verdict by mid-February.

The cabinet will be deciding whether the organisers of the troubled exhibition have made sufficient savings for the government to go ahead with a first cash injection of SFr120 million - half the sum approved by parliament last December.

The government, worried about the financing of Expo.02, gave the organisers until the end of January to come up with additional sponsorship of SFr380 million from private industry and to cut their budget by SFr290 million.

The deadline marks the latest in series of ups and downs for the troubled national exhibition.

It was originally planned to mark the 150th anniversary of the Swiss confederation in 1998. But in 1994, the government decided to stage a separate exhibition, which was to open in 2001 in the regions of lakes Murten, Neuchatel and Biel.

Late last year, the government decided to delay it for a further year because of budget and personnel problems which culminated in a series of resignations and a new management committee.

Key Expo dates in the past two years:

October 1998 - The technical director of Expo.01, Paolo Ugolini, resigns due to "internal problems". The resignation triggers a first crisis.

December 1998 - Artistic director Pipilotti Rist oulls out. She was later to speak of major differences. Her resignation confirms the public impression of management problems and a dispute over the exhibition's artistic profile.

July 1999 - The 50-member jury selecting the artistic exhibits for Expo.01 resigns. The head of the jury says sponsors are becoming too dominant and the artistic quality of the exhibits cannot be guaranteed.

July 1999 - Business leader André von Moos resigns as chief of staff and deputy director-general after only two months on the job.

August 1999 - The board overseeing Expo.01 sacks Director-General Jacqueline Fendt, amid allegations of management shortcomings and her perceived failure to win financial support from Swiss industry.

September 1999 -- A report by prominent Swiss businessman Nicolas Hayek calls for a new, full-time and professional management team. The report warns that the project will run out of money within weeks unless more funds are forthcoming quickly.

September 1999 - The financial and marketing directors of Expo.01, step aside. Two prominent politicians and leading management figures of the project, Francis Matthey and Elisabeth Zölch, say they will not seek a post in the new 5-member management team that is to lead Expo.01. Nelly Wenger is named interim director.

October 1999: The government decides to postpone Expo.01 by a year because of worries about its feasibility and financing. A new management committee, headed by the Radical Party president, Franz Steinegger, is set up. The Expo directors are told to secure an additional SFr380 million from private enterprise and cut SFr290 million as conditions for going ahead with Expo 02.

December 1999: Parliament agrees to give an extra SFr250 million to Expo. Several major companies agree to sponsorship deals.

From staff and wire reports

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