Agriculture Minister under fire for farming subsides

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Agriculture Minister under fire for farming subsides

15. 05. 2018 14:07

From angry farmers in Eastern Slovakia to the General Prosecutor and opposition MPs, everybody seems to have the name of the Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matečná (Slovak National Party/SNS) on their lips these days. For the past two months, farmers have been speaking out against being pressured to give away their farms to companies eager to use them to get farming subsidies. They submitted their documents to the General Prosecutor who last week publicly criticized the agriculture minister for the "current rotten system" when it comes to subsidies.

Two days later, opposition MP Veronika Remišová revealed that the Agriculture Ministry had approved a subsidy of €330,000 for the entrepreneur Alexej Beljajev to create a pond at his house. According to her, in the application for the subsidy he described the digging of the pond as a project aimed at developing tourism, with its overall cost exceeding €600,000. In an announcement for the district authority two months later, however, he called the pond a private structure worth €78,000. Beljajev denied the accusations, saying that the pond would serve as a recreational area for the public, as well as a water reservoir for firefighters and only about half of the requested subsidy has been approved for it.

Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matečná reacted on Monday by announcing that contracts included in the call for EU-fund support for investment in the development of non-farming activities will be reassessed. "I'd like strictly to separate two things - politicking and a professional discussion. There's definitely a need to find a consensus between the two, as we are politicians, as well. Politicians should know that they must have relevant arguments if they want to attack somebody and not only pull out a paper and pin scandals on people, and not only on me personally," she said, adding that in order to calm down the situation, the Agriculture Payment Agency would examine contracts from 2015 one more time. Matečná claims that Prosecutor General Jaromir Čižnár's criticism took her by surprise and she would like to discuss the topic with him directly.

Anca Dragu, Photo: TASR

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