Prague, Nov 12 (CTK) – Czech Deputy PM and ANO leader Andrej Babis sees no reason to sack Dan Tok as transport minister nominated by ANO, he told CTK on Saturday, adding that Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s Social Democrats (CSSD) want to get rid of Tok in order to resume their dubious deals in the transport sector.
Tok, in the ministerial post since late 2014, has launched a series of motorway and road repairs and solved the toll system problem, Babis said.
Sobotka has been holding separate meetings with all ministers these days to discuss their performance and plans. On Monday, he will meet Tok as the first minister from outside the CSSD.
In an interview in daily Pravo on Saturday, he says he would consider replacing Tok if he could replace ministers nominated by ANO or the third government partner, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
In the 17-seat centre-left cabinet, the CSSD has eight seats, ANO six and the KDU-CSL three.
“I can see no reason for Mr Tok’s dismissal. He has launched motorway repairs…, he has set long-frozen projects in motion. He found money in his ministry’s budget also to finance lower-class road repairs,” Babis told CTK.
He said Tok has been “breaking up the long-lasting favouritism ties in the transport sector, in the Czech Railways (CD) and the Railway Infrastructure Administration (SZDC).
“He had to solve the toll system problem. His predecessors, assisted by the CSSD, signed [toll] contracts and addenda to them absolutely disadvantageous for the state. Minister Tok found a solution that saved 1.5 billion crowns worth of public money. In addition, he prevented the toll system contract from going to the SkyToll company, which is tied with the CSSD,” Babis said.
He said another deal linked to the CSSD is the purchase of overpriced locomotives from the Skoda Transportation company represented by lawyer Radek Pokorny, a friend of Sobotka.
“I understand that the CSSD wants to get rid of Mr Tok in order to resume its own deals in the transport area,” Babis said.
He said Sobotka has dismissed two CSSD ministers in reaction to the CSSD’s failure in the October regional and Senate elections, but ANO would not sack its ministers based on the election result.
A similar rhetoric appeared in Friday’s exchange of opinions between Tok and Milan Chovanec, CSSD first deputy chairman and interior minister, on social networks.
The state toll collection contract with the Kapsch company will expire at the end of the year. The Transport Ministry was unable to choose the new provider in time, which is why it prolonged the contract with Kapsch. It did so without launching a tender, for which it has been fined one million crowns by the anti-monopoly office.
SkyToll, a Slovak road toll provider that seeks the Czech contract, has filed a legal action in protest against the ministry’s step.
On Friday, Sobotka announced that he will propose that President Milos Zeman dismiss Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek and Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier (both CSSD).
He called on ANO and the KDU-CSL to consider replacing some of their own ministers as well, but the government partners said they were not going to replace any.