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State suspends costly purchase of sugar and grain

THE ADMINISTRATION of State Material Reserves (SŠHR) has suspended the deliveries of grain and sugar from the company Montir, which belongs to a co-owner of J&T financial group, Igor Rattaj, after several media outlets reported about overpriced state purchases. The state administration clerks have refused to explain why they bought overpriced agricultural commodities, the Sme daily reported in its March 25 issue.

THE ADMINISTRATION of State Material Reserves (SŠHR) has suspended the deliveries of grain and sugar from the company Montir, which belongs to a co-owner of J&T financial group, Igor Rattaj, after several media outlets reported about overpriced state purchases. The state administration clerks have refused to explain why they bought overpriced agricultural commodities, the Sme daily reported in its March 25 issue.

In addition to Montir, the state was also buying sugar and wheat from Mlyn Štúrovo and Agro Energia. Sme wrote that the state could have paid nearly €1 million more than if it had bought sugar and what from other firms. It is not clear whether the state has also suspended the deliveries from these companies.

Meanwhile, former agriculture minister Zsolt Simon of Most-Híd said he wants to summon a special session of the parliamentary agriculture committee to discuss the issue.

“We still have the agreement which binds us to meet the deadline for deliveries, so we will discuss what to do next,” Rattaj told Sme.

His company has to deliver altogether 3,000 tons of wheat by March 31, nearly 1,000 tons of sugar by April and another 3,000 tons of wheat by the end of April. Similar terms apply to the other two firms, Sme wrote.

The state secured the contracts with high fines. If the deliveries of 2,000 tons of wheat were more than two weeks late, the companies would have to pay a fine of €43,000, while if 500 tons of sugar were two weeks late, the fine would be €140,000. The contracts do not state whether the companies still have to pay the fines in the event that the state refuses delivery of the products, according to Sme.

Despite media reports about the state losing tens of thousands of euros on purchases, Rattaj claims he earned some €20,000. He defends the higher price, stating that he delivers high quality wheat, but Sme wrote that the quality of his firm’s wheat does not differ from the wheat produced by farmers.

Source: Sme

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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