Czech press survey - April 4


04.04.2014 07:39

Prague - Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) should openly confront the problem of the allegedly unfavourable sale of the state´s minority stake in the OKD coal mining company, Sabina Slonkova writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.


Premiér Bohuslav Sobotka. ČTK Šulová Kateřina

She reminds of the suspicion that the state sold its minority stake in the OKD for a much lower price than its real value in 2004, when Sobotka was finance minister. He denies it.

Slonkova comments on Sobotka´s chance of surviving the latest disclosure in the OKD case.

She writes that the head of government should "take the bull by the horns" if he is suspected of having caused the loss of tax payers´ billions of crowns in "his" sale of the mines.

There is still a chance to at least partially redress the losses from the privatisation of state firms, even in the case of the OKD, Slonkova says.

The government should do its utmost to prevent the state from covering all costs of the OKD´s unprofitable Paskov mine and the severance pay to the dismissed miners. It should negotiate with the OKD owners who earned a lot from the privatisation´s transaction, Slonkova adds.

However, if Sobotka keeps repeating that the selling price was in order, citing the EC´s decision based on the documents worked out by his friend, it rather seems that he is making fun of citizens, Slonkova writes in conclusion.

The opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) should keep silent in the OKD privatisation case since its representatives are to blame for the state losing its majority stake in the firm in the 1990s, Petr Kambersky writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

The real problem is not the price for which the state, under then finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka, sold its minority stake in the OKD. The scandal is elsewhere: the firm´s managers actually bought the majority from the state for the same sum that the firm had in its accounts, Kambersky points out.

This happened during the government of then ODS chairman Vaclav Klaus (later president). Sobotka was a mere rank-and-file opposition deputy then, Kambersky recalls.

In this respect, Sobotka´s possible responsibility for the OKD minority stake´s sale is marginal, he adds.

Kambersky also asks about the intentions of Finance Minister and government ANO chairman Andrej Babis when he says Sobotka has political responsibility for the possibly unfavourable sale of the OKD´s stake.

Does ii mean that a "coalition war" has been declared, Kambersky asks.

Those who want to make Sobotka "suffer for his old sins" have an ideal opportunity now. However, at the end of such a war the country might have another prime minister, Kambersky concludes.

Billionaire businessman and ANO chairman Andrej Babis publicly shows his aversion to Prime Minister and Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka and most recently Babis is attacking Sobotka indirectly via his papers, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo today.

He recalls that the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), owned by Babis, indicated that Sobotka had documents on the sale of the state stake in the privatised OKD mining company for the European Commission (EC) worked out by the buyer who hired a law office.

Mitrofanov writes that the report harming Sobotka is the first result of the abnormal situation in which the head (or in this case rather the owner) of the government movement, who is deputy PM and finance minister at the same time, owns a media concern.

Moreover, Babis has allies in the CSSD in his crusade against Sobotka, Mitrofanov notes.

This group wants to replace Sobotka and his people in the party´s leadership. However, to fulfil this dream, they would have to surrender to Babis first, Mitrofanov says.

($1=19.922 crowns)

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