Opposition wants to convene extraordinary session of Agricultural Committee

Opposition wants to convene extraordinary session of Agricultural Committee

Members of the opposition sitting on the House Committee for Agriculture and Environment submitted on Wednesday a proposal to convene an extraordinary committee session over critical delays in direct payments to Slovak farmers and food producers, TASR learnt on the same day.

According to the Rules of Procedure, the session must be convened within seven days.

The submitters propose two items for the session's agenda: the summoning of Agriculture Minister Richard Takac (Smer-SD) who should explain the current situation regarding the delays, and the approval of an MP probe at the Agricultural Payment Agency (PPA), which in the opposition's view faces great problems in making direct payments to farmers.

"It's really imperative to discuss this. We must find some solution to the situation because what's happening in that sector has an impact on the everyday lives of these people. We're talking about life tragedies of some - the owners of small- and mid-sized business, who really face hard times and find themselves in a spiralling debt," opposition MP Alojz Hlina (SaS) said at a press conference.

"This is the third attempt to convene a session over the absence of direct payments. Enough excuses already," said Committee Vice-chair Tamara Stohlova (PS). She detailed that the opposition was given only excuses at the first session, whereas the second session wasn't even convened, even though farmers from the whole of Slovakia whose livelihood is in danger travelled to Parliament. "The minister must come up with a clear plan on how to prevent the bankruptcy of endangered farmers and the loss of hundreds of millions of euros."

Committee member Marian Caucik (KDH) pointed out that the Agriculture Minister had promised that farmers would receive their direct payments by the end of January. According to the latest information, however, the payment date has been postponed to June 30 - the last possible date set up by the EU. "We still don't know what the problem is. Minister Takac is dissimulating and not answering the questions. That's why we're convening the special session and we want to go to the PPA for an MP's probe to find out what the problem really is," he said.

Rastislav Kratky ('Slovakia' party) also believes that the delays in direct payments have been going on for too long. "The minister conceded that his underlings don't furnish him with proper information. It can be said that they either misled or even outright lied to him. The problem is not only technical - with the PPA system lacking some functionality - but also personnel-related. We see that information about the problem didn't reach the minister," he warned, adding that such a state warrants a probe by MPs.


Ben Pascoe, Photo: TASR

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