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National exhibition hits new money troubles

Franz Steinegger (right) informed political leaders about the national exhibition's financial plight


Switzerland's planned national exhibition, Expo 02, has run into new financial problems. The Expo leadership said on Friday SFr200 million ($118 million) was needed before the end of June.

It's the latest in a series of hitches, which has resulted in the exhibition being postponed for one year and has cast serious doubts over its future.

The head of the management committee, Franz Steinegger, told a meeting of the governing parties that the exhibition was suffering cash-flow problems. He said that while preparations were in full-swing, funds were slow to come in.

But despite the latest hitch, Steinegger said he was certain the project would open as scheduled in May 2002, and would not overrun its agreed budget of SFr1.4 billion.

Adalbert Durrer, the president of the Christian Democrats, echoed this view. "The point of no-return has been passed," Durrer told the meeting. "Expo will take place."

Steinegger outlined four options for resolving the current difficulties. These included a new bank credit, a short-term loan from the treasury, a government credit guarantee and a bank credit of SFr160 million combined with a government subsidy of SFr40 million.

In an attempt to stem the financial problems at Expo, parliament last year agreed on a deficit guarantee of SFr338 million.

The federal authorities have set a ceiling of SFr700 million on their total involvement in the project.

swissinfo with agencies


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