Prague, Oct 13 (CTK) – Czech Finance Minister and ANO movement chairman Andrej Babis said yesterday he would not apologise for having branded, Jan Bartosek and Ladislav Sincl, lawmakers for the other government parties, manipulated by the gambling lobby.
Bartosek has dismissed the accusations from Babis.
Babis gave as an argument the draft amendment to the bill on lotteries, which has been proposed by Bartosek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) and which, if passed, would open the Czech market to foreign firms and gave the birth to a lottery association.
Sincl (Social Democrats, CSSD) has supported Bartosek’s proposal, Babis, who is deputy prime minister, added.
“I definitely will not apologise to anyone,” Babis told journalists.
His apology has been demanded by Bartosek and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who is the CSSD chairman.
“I don’t know why the prime minister is urging me,” Babis said.
The draft amendment, which Bartosek submitted to the Chamber of Deputies in July and which has not been discussed as yet, is a piece of junk, Babis said.
Bartosek’s draft goes counter to the overall shape of the new bill on gambling prepared by the Finance Ministry and drafted by Ondrej Zavodsky, deputy finance minister for the KDU-CSL, Babis pointed out.
At a press conference later yesterday, Bartosek, who is lower house deputy chairman, said the draft he submitted is his own and it is not based on a draft provided to him by Marek Herman, head of the Betting Businesses Association.
He said he met Herman once or twice in his life, but he does not know the Association’s proposal because no one presented it to him.
Bartosek said his own proposal was aimed to harmonise Czech law with European and introduce elements of players’ self-regulation.
Babis said efforts were recently made by some in parliament to include Bartosek’s draft in ANO deputy Jan Volny’s proposal for a higher taxation on gambling. These efforts have been joined by Sincl, Babis said.
If Bartosek’s draft became a part of the Volny-proposed bill, the latter would have to be notified by the EC. As a result, its implementation, scheduled for the beginning of 2016, would be delayed.
In the Chamber of Deputies, Volny’s bill was recently blocked by opposition TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek’s obstructions. Kalousek said he minded the bill being discussed preferentially ahead of other bills submitted by deputies.
In reaction to him, the government on Monday approved a new bill on a higher taxation of gambling, which is to be discussed in a fast regime.