Developer to head state forests company in the Tatras

Environmentalists consider it a threat but the Agriculture Ministry does not consider it a conflict of interests.

Štrbské plesoŠtrbské pleso (Source: Sme)

Trnava-based businessman and the leader of several development projects in the Tatra mountains, Rastislav Hutta, will become the new head of the state-run forestry company in the Tatra National Park (TANAP).

He will take up the post in mid-March, the Podpolianske Noviny newspaper reported.

Hutta is, for example, behind the construction of one of the first big water parks in Slovakia: Tatralandia, situated near Liptovský Mikuláš (Žilina Region). The water park is currently owned by the Tatry Mountain Resorts (TMR) company. He also stands behind the Skilandia project, which is expected to be connected to the ski resort in Jasná, also controlled by TMR. However, the plans are currently stuck, the Sme daily reported.

“I’m horrified that Hutta will become head of the state forests of the TANAP,” environmentalist Karol Kaliský said, as quoted by Sme. “Now, when we’re trying to stop the devastation of national parks, the ministry wants a developer to supervise the state forests in our mountains.”

No impact on nature protection?

However, the Agriculture Ministry does not consider Hutta’s activities a problem. It refers to the law regarding work in the public interest, which stipulates that a public official who takes up a leading post has to stop other business activities within 30 days.

Moreover, its spokesperson Vladimír Machalík said that the state forestry company is responsible for the management of the forests in the High Tatras. Any potential construction works or logging needs to be approved by the TANAP Administration, which is run by the Environment Ministry.

“The environment minister doesn’t comment on the personnel politics in a state-run company managed by another ministry, but the Environment Ministry will continue using its powers to protect the most precious localities in Slovakia,” its spokesperson Tomáš Ferenčák told Sme.

The Agriculture Ministry chose the new head of the state forests relatively quickly. Its previous head Pavol Líška left the post in early 2018, after 15 years. He was replaced by Pavol Fabian, who was dismissed in late January 2019. It is not clear why the change was made, Sme wrote.

It also informed that although two people applied for the selection procedure for the post, only Hutta was actually present.

The selection committee evaluated his professional experiences and managerial skills, and he passed the proceedings, as the Agriculture Ministry informed on its website.

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