Minister says Pompeii was underfunded, can't happen again

Cultural heritage must be funded

Minister says Pompeii was underfunded, can't happen again

Rome, May 23 - Funding to preserve and protect Italy's cultural heritage must be made a priority so crises such as those that have hit Pompeii won't happen again, the culture minister said Thursday. And the UUNESCO World Heritage site at Pompeii must remain a top priority for government support, Massimo Bray added. "Never again, a case like Pompeii," Bray told a hearing of House and Senate politicians. "I pledge to streamline resources and to seek funds to restore the dignity that (the Culture ministry) deserves," Bray added. Despite two years' worth of delays, "the full and complete implementation of the project for the restoration of Pompeii is a top priority for Italy and the world community," said Bray. Restoration work at the Pompeii archaeological site has often been plagued with controversy including fraud investigations. The former special commissioner for excavations has been under investigation as part of a larger probe into contracts tendered and work performed as part of an earlier eight-million euro restoration project at Pompeii. Authorities allege that contracts were rigged and granted to companies without the required specifications. Meanwhile, a larger Grande Progetto Pompei or Great Pompeii Project - with more than 100 million euros in financial backing from the European Commission and the Italian government - is underway to to secure and improve access to the archaeological site.

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