Head of the SBA state agency stripped of powers, due to doubts about start-up conference

SLOVAK Economy Minister Vazil Hudák has limited the powers of the head of the state Slovak Business Agency, Branislav Šafárik; following doubts about the economic efficiency of the TechMatch conference that was meant to support local start-ups.

Vazil HudákVazil Hudák(Source: SITA)

The week-long conference started on October 12 in Bratislava, and is being attended by numerous speakers. Contrary to the official information, the conference has in fact been organised by the private company US Market Access Center (US MAC), the Sme daily wrote on its website on October 14. US MAC does not state that the whole event is financed from the Slovak state budget. Further controversy has been caused by the information that US MAC has launched the selection of start-ups for the conference already in spring, while they officially only procured the organiser on August 19. The original reservations concerned the cost of organising the conference, which is alleged to be €1.4 million, and the unclear conditions of procuring services surrounding the conference.

Read also:Start-up conference raises more questions

„The SBA CEO is obliged to refrain from concluding contracts with financial or any other contents, in the name of the agency,” ministry spokeswoman Miriam Žiaková told the SITA newswire. “This limitation lasts until cancellation, or until another decision is made by the board.” Šafárik can now only conclude minor contracts up to €4,000 or agreements regarding the civic-labour issue. He can also still sign loan contracts with entrepreneurs – the agency has a programme of loans that helps the new business-people to launch their enterprise.

An audit is pending, and Hudák said, as quoted by Sme, that further decisions depend on its outcome and results. 

Read also:Instead of direct support for start-ups, money goes to expensive conference

 

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