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Goverment offers SFr338 million backing to Expo

The Swiss government has proposed granting the planned national exhibition a deficit guarantee of SFr338 million. The final decision will be made by parliament at its next session in March.

This content was published on February 23, 2000 - 13:49

The Swiss government has proposed granting the planned national exhibition a deficit guarantee of SFr338 million. The final decision will be made by parliament at its next session in March.

The deficit-guarantee approved by the cabinet at its weekly cabinet meeting is SFr 18 million higher than what Expo 02's organisers had asked for. The government said this was because it could not approve other requests, for Expo to be exempted from VAT and interest on credits. It said there was no legal basis for waiving these.

However, the government did agree to grant Expo a preferential interest rate of one per cent, which will reduce its interest payments from SFr17 million to SFr4 million. VAT is expected to cost the exhibition SFr34 million.

The deficit-guarantee will have to be approved by parliament in its Spring session next month, after which construction work can be re-started.

Building around the three lakes in western Switzerland where the exhibition will be held, lakes Murten, Biel and Neuchatel, was suspended last year in the wake of a management and financial crisis. The crisis culminated in the dismissal of Expo's director, Jacqueline Fendt, and a decision to postpone Expo by a year.

It also prompted a major financial review, and in January, Expo's organisers said they had succeeded in the budget by SFr400 million to SFr from the budget.

Since then, the government has come out strongly in favour of the planned exhibition, and says it is convinced Expo has taken the necessary measures to keep costs under control and re-organise the management.

From staff and wire reports

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