Friday, 12 October 2018

Tok may leave post of Czech transport minister

ČTK |
17 May 2018

Prague, May 16 (CTK) - Transport Minister Dan Tok (for ANO) is considering leaving his post and he will announce his decision by the end of the week, he told journalists before the cabinet meeting Wednesday morning.

The Communists (KSCM) who are to indirectly support the emerging minority government of the ANO movement of Andrej Babis and the Social Democrats (CSSD) have been critical of Tok's work for some time. The CSSD recently criticised Tok as well.

After the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Babis said he would not comment on the lineup of the possible future government.

Tok said the criticism of the Social Democrats seems to be motivated by their effort to influence the choice of the operator of the electronic toll collection system. He said they may want to negotiate directly with the Kapsch company that has been operating the system now.

The Transport Ministry declared a tender for the operation of the toll system, which has been won by the consortium of Slovak SkyToll and the CzechToll from the PPF Group of Petr Kellner. But the antitrust office UOHS cancelled the huge toll tender last week. In reaction, Tok said the launch of the new system which is to start operation in 2020 has been endangered. He said he would appeal the UOHS verdict.

Tok had a dispute with Kapsch. The firm claimed that he harmed its reputation by manipulative and false statements. Tok previously called on Kapsch to promptly cut its costs for the operation of the toll system.

The toll tender has been the biggest public contract organised by the Transport Ministry.

Babis said he wrote a letter to the UOHS head. He said the UOHS cancelled the toll tender over rather formal aspects that are not of major importance.

Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (for ANO), told journalists that he knew that Tok was considering to end in the cabinet. "He is a good expert, level-headed and calm. A man who is resistant to being influenced.

Pelikan said in April he would not be a member of the next cabinet. He said he never wanted to pursue a political career and considered it a temporary episode after which he would return to his profession of a lawyer.

The ANO minority cabinet was appointed last December, but it lost the confidence vote in parliament in January. As a result, it had to officially resign and it will be ruling the country until the appointment of a new cabinet. Babis is to head the new cabinet despite his prosecution over a suspected EU subsidy fraud. He offered the Social Democrats one third of the seats in the new cabinet and they are to decide on the offer in June.

Tok has been transport minister since December 2014 when he replaced David Prachar (ANO) in the post. He was one of ANO's regional election leaders before the general election last autumn and he won a seat in parliament.

In 2008-2014 Tok was director general and board chairman of the Skanska construction company. In 2006-08 he headed the KKCG Industry firm of billionaire Karel Komarek.

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