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Czechoslovak voucher privatisation author Ježek dies aged 77

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Prague, Nov 29 (CTK) – Czech economist, former MP and former minister Tomas Jezek, known as one of the authors of the Czechoslovak “voucher privatisation” from the 1990s, has died aged 77, ex-PM Petr Pithart told CTK on Wednesday, confirming server’s report.

Jezek is considered the “voucher privatisation” mastermind and initiator of the country’s transition from the communist economy to the free market one together with Vaclav Klaus and Dusan Triska. Within this method of privatisation, citizens could cheaply buy vouchers representing potential shares in state-owned companies.

Jezek succumbed to a serious illness, Pithart said, adding that he had been regularly seeing Jezek at former ministers’ meetings in the past years.

“Tomas excused himself from the latest meeting a fortnight ago. I did not know he was so seriously ill,” Pithart, who was Czech prime minister within the Czechoslovak federation in 1990-1992, told CTK.

In reaction to Jezek’s decease, Czech politicians praised his competence and principles.

“A man died who sincerely trusted his work and its sense,” President Milos Zeman said via his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek.

“The news about the death of my old colleague and friend Tomas Jezek saddened me very much,” Klaus said, remembering his friendship with Jezek that dated back to their childhood.

Jezek largely contributed to the Czech economic transformation and the successful course and result of privatisation, Klaus said.

He said he was sorry at Jezek having started to move away from him both politically and humanly in a certain moment.

“His recent bitterness worried me very much,” Klaus said.

Pithart mentioned Jezek’s authorship of the voucher privatisation and said Jezek would still defend this method now, though he admitted that it could not be viewed as the only or one prevailing.

Jezek also assisted in the direct sale of the state Skoda Auto car maker to German Volkswagen, Pithart pointed out.

He said Jezek warned against some mistakes accompanying the implementation of the vourcher privatisation.

Pithart said he respected Jezek, who was a genuine liberal and a deep Evangelical believer. He represented the original Scottish liberalism of Adam Smith, something that was and still is exceptional in the Czech Republic, he said.

During the November 1989 “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia, Jezek assisted in founding the Civic Forum (OF) broad group of anti-communist organisations.

Later he co-founded the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), which he represented as a member of parliament for six years.

In 1995, he switched from the ODA to Klaus’s Civic Democratic Party (ODS).

Before the fall of communism, Jezek worked in the Economic Institute and later in the Prognostic Institute of the Academy of Sciences.

In the 1990s, he was an adviser to then finance minister Klaus, he was minister for privatisation for two years and also headed the National Property Fund (FNM).

Jezek unsuccessfully ran for a post of a senator twice. He was an external lecturer at Prague’s University of Economics.

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