VP: VUPOP Employees Framed as Scapegoats in Agricultural Scandals

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, March 29 (TASR) – Employees of the Soil Science and Conservation Research Institute (VUPOP) have become scapegoats in the investigation into potential agricultural subsidies fraud in eastern Slovakia, Rural Platform (VP) president Lucia Gallova said on Thursday.

Gallova spoke in response to Tuesday’s (March 27) press conference held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development along with the Agricultural Payment Agency (PPA).

“At her press conference on March 27, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Gabriela Matecna [a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee] announced that she would take resolute action and dismiss researchers at VUPOP over a misstep these researchers were supposed to have made during digitisation. However, not a single shred of accountability on the part of PPA employees was intimated, despite the fact that the PPA is the final institution that verifies data from VUPOP and takes responsibility over it. Also because of this, we hold the opinion that VUPOP and its employees have been framed as scapegoats in this entire process,” underlined Gallova.

The Rural Platform president pointed out that farmers from all corners of Slovakia have been warning both the ministry administration and the PPA of fraud in agriculture for years. This took place in the form of verbal testimonies but also reports in writing.

“We’d like to point the attention of Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna to this and call upon her to punish the real culprits behind the scandal as well as set the rules in such a way so as to prevent cases of illegal drawing of direct payments in the future. The solution is quite simple and lies in immediately introducing the rental contract register,” said Gallova.