Government cans Expo pavilion to save money and face

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The Latvian cabinet on Tuesday decided to cancel planned expensive participation at next year's 'World Expo' event in Milan, Italy, with a grandiose pavilion, but said it would explore the possibility of taking part in less crushingly expensive ways.

The move to rein back on an Expo 2015 spend that could have totalled more than €5m was led by new Economy Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola who recommended pulling out for numerous reasons.

"For one thing, there is a very real risk the project will not be finished in time," she said, outlining the complex and time-consuming negotiations that have taken place with the potential builders of a Latvian pavilion.

However, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma was reluctant to can the project entirely, granting a three week breathing space for ideas that would ensure some sort of Latvian presence without the need for a large-scale actual pavilion, as space has already been reserved at the Milan site, which is due to open to the public in May.

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs warned the Expo opt-out could affect the country's image and advised on making better long-term decisions about participation in such events.

His thoughts were echoed by Culture Minister Dace Melbārde who said "we seriously need to consider our communication methods" and urged an overhaul of procurement procedures in general.

Only last week the same cabinet okayed an additional €1.6m of funding for the Expo pavilion. 

So far, expenditure on the project is €1.2m though overall expenditure on the complex oaken pavilion planned at €5.6m was clearly starting to spiral out of control.

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