Thursday, 19 April 2018

Opposition challenges plan to built government district

ČTK |
21 December 2017

Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - Czech opposition politicians and experts challenged new Prime Minister Andrej Babis's (ANO) plan to build a new administrative compound for the government offices in Prague and turn the present historical buildings used by ministries into museums or galleries.

"This shows a total loss of sound judgement, a gigantomania, grandeur. It is absolute nonsense," Prague councillor Vaclav Novotny (TOP 09) said.

Novotny said Babis was part of the government for four years and his ANO movement was in charge of ministries that could decide on the huge and rare Baroque compound Invalidovna that could have been reconstructed, but they have not done anything with it.

Experts also took a rather reserved stance on the plan to move the agenda related to tourism to the Culture Ministry.

Marek Pokorny, the Civic Democrats (ODS) expert on cultural affairs, said this would be a step for which nobody has been prepared, although this alternative was discussed for several years.

Open Society head Marta Smolikova also considers this proposal controversial.

Pokorny appreciated the pledges that 1 percent of GDP would go to culture and that the salaries of employees of cultural institutions would be raised as well as the plan of an active cooperation between the culture and education ministries.

But he said the words about the construction of many new concert halls, theatres, libraries, museums and galleries in accordance to the world trends scared him because it all seemed to be empty slogans.

New Culture Minister Ilja Smid wants to have more finances for state support for theatres, orchestras and choirs.

Pokorny said this was a good step, but there was no mention of public galleries and museums that have been complaining about a lack of funds for years.

He pointed out that the government said it would support the independence of media through the councils for public television, public radio and TV and radio broadcasting. "This reveals the strategy in potentially getting them under control - the media councils are a guarantor, but the voting machine in parliament may play an important role in their lineups. We could see the first results of this in the election of lower house committee heads," Pokorny said.

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