Friday, 18 April 2014

Finance Ministry withdraws audit of Constitutional Court

27 April 2012

Prague, April 26 (CTK) - The Czech Finance Ministry checked the Constitutional Court's (US) accounting, but Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) did not hand the results of the check that revealed some mistakes to the tax office, he admitted Thursday.

Kalousek reacted to Hospodarske noviny (HN) daily that indicated Thursday that he swept the results of the check under the carpet.

Kalousek said US chairman Pavel Rychetsky challenged the check. Rychetsky told Kalousek earlier this year that he believes the check is not in accordance with the US's independence guaranteed by the Constitution.

US secretary Tomas Langasek told CTK that the Constitutional Court should be checked by the Supreme Audit Office (NKU), not by the Finance Ministry.

"We believe the Constitution has established the NKU as an independent constitutional institution also because the NKU should check the accounting of other constitutional bodies," Langasek said.

The latest NKU check of the court's accounting was in 2000.

Respecting Rychetsky's opinion, Kalousek said he decided not to take standard steps following the completed check to "avoid speculations whether it is an expedient pressure exerted by the executive on the independence of the Constitutional Court."

"It was my decision and I believe it was correct," he said.

HN writes that financial inspector Robert Sip who worked 30 years at the ministry left his job in protest against Kalousek's decision to stop the standard procedure, which actually cancelled the check in March.

Apart from challenging the ministry's right to control the court, the US disagreed with the conclusions of the three-month check. "Minister Kalousek recognised our reservations," Langasek said.

The check concluded that the operation and servicing of the cars used by the court and the purchase of computer software were not in order.

Kalousek said the check did not reveal anything that would point to possible violation of law.

If a tax office received the check's results, it would probably impose a fine on the US.

Finance Ministry spokesman Ondrej Jakob confirmed that Kalousek accepted most of the reservations.

Langasek said the ministry's check focusing on the last three years did not reveal any major problem.

He said drivers of US cars made mistakes when filling in forms on the use of the cars, but other findings of the ministry's check were "incorrect and in some cases even absurd."

Langasek said Kalousek had no other option than to cancel the check because the US disproved the conclusions of the ministry's check.

But Kalousek wrote previously that the check was performed "impartially, professionally and honestly." He said he believes Rychetsky would correct the mistakes revealed even without penalties ordered by executive bodies.

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