SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Magic Trading

IF YOU want to learn a thing or two about miraculous business success, go ask the boss of Magic Trading Corporation, Norbert Havalec. Like other great entrepreneurs, he too once had a little garage firm.

IF YOU want to learn a thing or two about miraculous business success, go ask the boss of Magic Trading Corporation, Norbert Havalec. Like other great entrepreneurs, he too once had a little garage firm.

But his was halfway across the globe - in Snohomish, Washington. With luck, the start-up managed to buy a few emissions quotas from the Environment Ministry in a deal in which the state lost an estimated €75 million.

Havalec also got €3.2 million from the Defence Ministry for developing the “supersoldier” of the 21st century. A little more cash would probably have helped, because this meagre amount was only enough to pay for a couple of studies and some sample equipment, which needed no development because its components could be purchased off the shelf.

And Magic Trading Corporation is now supposed to receive over €600,000 in connection with a mobile radiation laboratory. What exactly are they to deliver? The Economy Ministry, responsible for distributing European funds aimed at stimulating innovation, says that the project will “enable the preparation of inputs for the possible future construction of such laboratories”.

The army, as one of the few potential clients, has already stated that it is not interested in the product. But at least the “inputs” will be ready if it ever changes its mind.

The list of the various items and services Havalec has provided to the state over the years could go on. He embodies the kind of businessman that is typical for Slovakia – one that is able to do business with various ministries and under different governments.

Sadly, the likes of him seem to do especially well under administrations run by Robert Fico; the same administrations that tend to make life difficult for those parts of the business community that do not live on public funds. Smer’s strategy of suffocating regular entrepreneurs, while being generous to those living on handouts cannot be sustained for long, unless, of course, there is some magic involved.

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