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Swiss government to come clean on troubled Expo.01

After months of negative media headlines, resignations and dwindling public confidence, the Swiss government is expected to pass its verdict on the troubled national exhibition, known as Expo.01, later Monday.

This content was published on October 4, 1999 - 09:53

After months of negative media headlines, resignations and dwindling public confidence, the Swiss government is expected to pass its verdict on the troubled national exhibition, known as Expo.01, later Monday.

Politicians, Swiss industry and many ordinary people are wondering whether the government will call for Expo.01 to go ahead as planned and open in 2001, or whether the cabinet will call for a delay.

There is also the possibility that the government will make clear how much money it is prepared to pump into the cash-strapped project.

Monday’s announcement comes after close study of a high-profile report by a prominent Swiss businessman, who has called for major changes to the management of Expo.01 to save the exhibition.

The report by Nicolas Hayek – the head of the Swatch Group and best known internationally for his Swatch watches – warned of a severe financial shortfall and called for a new and professional management team to keep the project on track.

The report gained major importance for Expo.01 since Swiss business leaders -- considered the financial backbone of the project -- repeatedly made clear that they would make further financial contributions dependent on Hayek’s assessment.

Economics Minister Pascal Couchepin has also stated on several occasions that the government fully supports the exhibition but will study the report before deciding on whether to play a more active role.

For months, Expo.01 has been plagued by allegations of mismanagement, budgetary problems, resignations of key managers and the sacking of the director-general.

Most political observers agree that the exhibition can only be saved if the government takes a clear stand on the issue and publicly states its commitment to the project.

The main concept for Expo.01 is to have four major exhibition areas in the Neuchâtel, Murten, Biel and Yverdon-les-Bains lake regions in western Switzerland. The displays, installations and artistic projects are meant to portray the kind of social, political, scientific and educational topics which are relevant for modern day Switzerland.

From staff and wire reports.


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