Proposed Czech ministers tainted with scandals - press


06.01.2014 09:50

Prague - Some people with a dubious past such as nominated health minister Svatopluk Nemecek (Social Democrats, CSSD) are heading for the new Czech coalition government, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.


Zleva předseda hnutí ANO Andrej Babiš, předseda ČSSD Bohuslav Sobotka a předseda KDU-ČSL Pavel Bělobrádek. ČTK Vondrouš Roman

Nemecek will occupy the post at the moment the European Commission released a comprehensive study focusing on corruption in EU member countries.

In the Czech Republic, it warns of the purchases of overpriced health equipment, often with a direct involvement of politicians, MfD writes.

This is Nemecek's case, too. The EC study described the specific overpriced purchases in the Czech Republic such as that of the "most expensive gamma knife in the world" by the prominent Na Homolce hospital in Prague, it adds.

A second, similar instrument was bought by Nemecek's Teaching Hospital in Ostrava, north Moravia, MfD writes.

It cost 200 million crowns, twice as much as in the neighbouring countries, it adds.

Nemecek is a long-standing head of the Ostrava hospital.

Besides, it was not the only equipment the hospital bought at an inflated price, MfD writes.

However, Nemecek himself says the purchase of CyberKnife was in order.

"We have the figures proving that we saved a great deal of money in the health system," Nemecek is quoted as saying.

The government will be joined by another minister with a dubious past, Petr Krcal, who will be in charge of labour and social affairs, MfD writes.

Krcal joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC) briefly before the fall of the totalitarian regime in November 1989, it adds.

He claims he did so over his work with the youth, MfD writes.

However, his official CV does not include a word about it, it adds.

Besides, Krcal worked as an aide at the Defence Ministry in the mid-2000s, MfD writes.

This means that he was there when the overpriced deal for the Austrian-made Pandur armoured personnel carriers was approved, it adds.

Moreover, future transport minister Antonin Prachar, nominated by food and media tycoon Andrej Babis's ANO, is a co-owner of the Omega servis transport company, MfD writes.

Due to this, he is facing a conflict of interests, it adds.

However, this is faced by businessman Babis himself. Babis will become the finance minister in the coalition government in the making.

It is to be formed by the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

Prachar owns one-fifth of Omega servis that deals in the transportation of hazardous substances.

"I am doing the most to settle my property affairs as soon as possible," Prachar told the paper.

Upon taking office, Prachar will decide on whether to increase the toll on motorways that will also afflict his firm.

He will also face the dilemma of whether to introduce fees for lorries and buses also on all the first category roads, under a scheme suggested by the outgoing Jiri Rusnok caretaker government in December.

Daily Pravo writes that Czech environmentalists are resolutely opposed to Richard Brabec (ANO) becoming environment minister.

Due to Brabec's chemical and forestry businesses, this is a tremendous conflict of interests, Jan Pinos, spokesman for the Friends of the Earth environmental group, said.

"If Brabec had some sound judgement, as a former director of two chemical works and a lobbyist in the Confederation of Industry he would certainly not accept such a post," Jan Rovensky, head of the Czech Greenpeace energy campaign, is quoted as saying.

($1 = 20.186 crowns)

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