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Zeman appoints Havlíček new industry and trade minister

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Prague, April 4 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman appointed Jiri Havlicek (Social Democrats, CSSD) the new industry and trade minister at Prague Castle on Tuesday, half a year before the general election.

The Industry and Trade Ministry was temporarily headed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka after Jan Mladek (both CSSD) left the post of minister at the end of February. Sobotka said Mladek was dismissed due to his reluctance to seek a reduction in the high prices of mobile data.

Zeman said economists had recommended that the Czech economy focus on services rather than industry, which led to the end of many firms, including the Tatra Koprivnice truck maker and the Poldi Kladno steelworks.

He expressed hope that Havlicek would develop the long tradition of Czech industry and would not let it fade away due to stupid economic experiments.

Zeman said a strong industrial sector was an advantage for the Czech Republic.

Sobotka inaugurated Havlicek after the appointment and said Havlicek has six priority tasks.

They include the law on electronic communication, the acceleration of the drawing of money from the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness, digitisation of industry, acceleration of the preparation for the construction of a new unit in the nuclear power plant in Dukovany, south Moravia, and an improvement in consumer protection.

The sixth point is a change to the system of investment incentives for the benefit of investments with a higher value added.

Havlicek was deputy industry and trade minister from early 2014 until now. In 2003-06, he closely cooperated with industry and trade minister Milan Urban (CSSD).

He said his priorities for the rest of the election period are the pushing through of the bill on electronic communication, which concerns the mobile data), the bill on high-speed Internet and an amendment to the Czech Trade Inspection Authority law.

Havlicek will also have to deal with the situation of the insolvent OKD coal-mining firm and problems with the incomplete the Turkish power plant Yunus Emre, financed by the Czech Export Bank.

After the elections, he might return to the post of deputy minister.

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