Monday, 21 April 2014

Industry mninister wants gov't to discuss ministry merger

ČTK |
10 December 2012

Prague, Dec 9 (CTK) - The Czech government parties should discuss the planned merger of selected ministries with the opposition but the decision on the merger should be up to the ruling coalition, Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba (Civic Democrats, ODS) said in a television debate yesterday.

Kuba has been mentioned as the possible future head of the Economy Ministry that may arise from the merger of "his" Industry and Trade Ministry with the Transport Ministry, planned for austerity reasons.

Kuba said it is better if the ministries that are supposed to merge are headed by politicians from one political party.

In the case of the two above mentioned ministries, this would become true if the ODS filled the presently vacant seat of transport minister, which the junior ruling LIEDM is entitled to fill under the coalition agreement.

The ODS has been negotiating with LIDEM about swapping "its" Defence Ministry for LIDEM's Transport Ministry.

"The decision must be initiated by the coalition. The coalition must decide and it must be capable of pushing it through parliament," Kuba said, referring to the ministries' merger.

Some commentators have criticised the right-wing cabinet of Petr Necas (ODS) for proposing the merger belatedly, halfway through its election period. In view of the time the step's approval and preparation would take, it will not affect the present government but the next one that will emerge from the mid-2014 elections, observers point out.

The elections are widely expected to be won by the now opposition Social Democrats (CSSD).

Kuba said he is ready to discuss the planned changes with the opposition.

Concepts concerning energy and transport have a long-term character and they usually exceed one government's period of rule, Kuba said.

He said the ODS should agree with LIDEM on the swap of ministries, as it would facilitate the merger of the Industry and Transport Ministries.

"The plan can be implemented only if both [merging] ministries are headed by politicians from one political party," Kuba said.

The post of transport minister was recently vacated by Pavel Dobes (LIDEM). The media speculate about former Zlin regional governor Libor Lukas (ODS) or the Czech Technical University's Transport Faculty dean Petr Moos as possible new transport minister.

Kuba, ODS first deputy chairman, said the personnel filling of the post is up to PM Necas (ODS chairman). He said he wants to discuss the names of candidates with Necas, but he did not present any concrete names.

If the swap of ministries took place, LIDEM would probably fill the post of defence ministry with its chairwoman, Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake.

The leftist opposition, nevertheless, says the post of defence minister should be filled with an expert. Similar exchanges of ministries are nothing but political bargain, the opposition says.

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