Dnevnik warns of traps in scandal linked to farm minister

Ljubljana – The newspaper Dnevnik writes about alleged wrongdoing involving the lease of farmland that is linked to the scandal involving outgoing Agriculture Minister Jože Pogoršek under the headline Lucky for NSi Pogoršek Won’t Be MP.

The paper notes that Podgoršek was forced to resign just days ahead of the election after it transpired that he “sold himself for a lousy EUR 800 to fighters for farmland”, a reference to his bill at an upscale Bohinj hotel that the company KŽK paid for.

It was too late for New Slovenia (NSi) to withdraw Podgoršek as a candidate for MP, so it was lucky for the party he was not elected MP.

However, the paper says the “fierce war for plots of land” between KŽK and farmers that would want to till the same plots is not over yet and more people could yet “slip on this banana peel”.

It says the prospective PM Robert Golob should bear that in mind before taking his pick for the agriculture minister, especially if the rumour holds true that his main advisors on agriculture come from the Agency for Agricultural Markets and Rural Development.

The legal counsel of the farmers involved in the dispute claims they have warned the agency that some of state-owned plots leased by KŽK are in fact worked by farmers but the agency still paid subsidies to KŽK.

The paper notes that paying out potentially unjustified subsidies, most of which come from the EU, is a crime carrying up to eight years in prison. This is why it is only right that law enforcement and courts should get to the bottom of the matter.

The paper finds the KŽK scandal has shown the scale of the problem faced by Slovenia in terms of the shortage of farmland as a result of ill-thought-through development.