Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Senators: Property statements may paralyse town halls

ČTK |
6 December 2017

Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) - The fact that Czech local politicians must release their property statements may paralyse municipal authorities because many capable people will be unwilling to run for the posts, which is why 43 senators challenged the law on conflict of interest, their representatives said on Tuesday.

The heads of the senators elected for the Social Democrats (CSSD), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) pointed out that more than half of all senators signed the constitutional complaint filed last week.

ANO senator group's head Zdena Hamousova signed the complaint, too.

The senators challenged the duty of local politicians to release data on all their property, including the property they own together with their spouses or partners in companies.

The law does not respect the rights of third persons, ODS senator group's head Milos Vystrcil said.

STAN senator group's head Jan Hornik said it is not good that anybody has access to the central register of property statements administered by the Justice Ministry. The STAN wants the access to be limited.

"The register is only an opportunity for thieves to find whom to rob," KDU-CSL senator group's head Petr Silar said.

Hornik said the complaint has been filed so that local politicians do not face a fine of up to 50,000 crowns for failing to meet the duty to release their property statement.

The Union of Towns and Villages and the Association of Regions on Tuesday declared that the register of property statements should not be publicly available because it includes sensitive data that could be misused.

Public officials should be moved to the part of the register that is not open to the public, like judges and state attorneys, they write in their declaration.

The Union's head Frantisek Lukl said Lower house chairman Radek Vondracek (ANO) also supported this change.

"If the current system is maintained, not only sensitive data may be abused but also capable and successful personalities may leave public posts en masse," said Karlovy Vary Region governor Jana Vildumetzova (ANO) who heads the Association of Regions.

The latest version of the law on the conflict of interest was approved at the beginning of the year and it is dubbed Lex Babis because it newly set the rules for businesses ran by cabinet members who included billionaire ANO leader Andrej Babis then. Babis was deputy prime minister and finance minister from January 2014 to May 2017.

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