Saturday, 22 June 2019

New Czech PM: I feel no lobbyist pressure

By Marie Valášková | Hospodářské noviny |
6 May 2009

Why did you not like the candidates proposed for the Finance Ministry, Justice Ministry and Industry and Trade Ministry posts?
I wanted a government of experts, with whom I could be sure that they would be well prepared to handle their jobs, particularly in the economic sphere. We are talking about the Finance Ministry and the Industry and Trade Ministry. I had discussions with the proposed candidates, but unfortunately, I was not convinced.

The ČSSD and the ODS are suggesting that you yielded to pressure from lobbyists. Is that the case?
I don't feel any pressure form lobbyists. If anyone ever tried to pressure me, I would put a quick end to it. I refute any such accusations and refuse to deal with them.

I am convinced that they are professional, competent people.

The justice minister could influence the investigation surrounding the circumstances of the privatisation of Mostecká uhelná. Did you ever feel pressure when trying to fill this post?
Not in the slightest. I never thought of any connection to the privatisation of some company. I only know about that from media speculations. It's interesting that the source of these speculations are politicians, at least according to the journalists.

The biggest tender that is currently under way is the commission to liquidate ecological damage. Do you feel any pressure in connection with this?
You know, I have slightly high blood pressure, and I take medication for it. But I don't feel any of the pressure you are talking about. At least for now, and I hope it will remain that way. This tender is already under way. According to the schedule, the final decision [about the commission] should be made at the end of November, so it seems that the result will be by that time something that the newly-elected government will have to deal with.

You eventually decided to scrap you proposals [for ministry candidates]. Why?
With regards to the Finance Ministry and the Industry and Trade Ministry, both sides decided to abandon their proposals. The agreed on a compromise.

Did you consult your choices for ministry candidates with anyone?
I did. I talked with the people whose opinions I value. People who have experience in economics.

Did President Václav Klaus tell you he did not want to name some of the proposed ministry candidates?
No, he did not have any plans to oppose or even veto any of the proposed names?

Will you want to chair the European Council in June?
I haven't discussed the arrangement yet. It remains open. My goal will be that the European Commission happens in a dignified manner, and I want to maintain the agenda that is being prepared for this summit.

What privatisations or state tenders do you thing your cabinet could bring to completion?
The privatisation of Czech Airlines is under way, and I don't see any reason not to continue with it. When it comes to the privatisation of Prague Airport, one can assume that this government will not be involved in it.

Jiří Paroubek and Mirek Topolánek agreed on introducing the scrapping bonus, but they have not decided on when it should take effect. The final decision will be yours to make. When do you plan to launch the scrapping bonus?
The government will still need to discuss the scrapping bonus and consult it with the different political parties.