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Zeman to meet candidate for finance minister Pilný on Tuesday

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Prague, May 22 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman will receive ANO’s MP Ivan Pilny, candidate for finance minister, at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, at 16:30 on Tuesday, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK yesterday.

Pilny is to replace ANO chairman and Deputy PM Andrej Babis at the Finance Ministry’s helm.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said he hoped that Babis would be dismissed and his successor be appointed this week.

Zeman announced last week that he had no objections to Sobotka’s proposal for the appointment of Pilny as a new finance minister.

Ovcacek added that Pilny might be appointed this week.

Zeman must first dismiss Babis from the post of finance minister and deputy prime minister.

Zeman said he would like to meet Babis first, but no exact date of their meeting has been announced as yet.

Babis told reporters today that he did not know when he would meet Zeman. He added that the exact date of his departure as finance minister would be up to Zeman.

Babis said he was willing to leave the posts. He also said he would call on Zeman to dismiss him. However, he refused to leave the coalition government of the CSSD, ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) on his own since he disagreed with the reasons for his proposed sacking.

Sobotka said after a government meeting today that he relied on the information the Presidential Office released last week saying “a new finance minister will be appointed this week.”

“In other works, I expect the information to be confirmed by particular steps this week,” he said.

Sobotka said he expected the new finance minister to secure some employees’ pay rise as of July, which the government had already approved.

“And that he will lead the talks with the sectors as far as the expenditure structure in particular budget chapters is concerned,” Sobotka said, adding that the result should be a sustainable and realistic budget for next year.

Sobotka justified Babis’s dismissal by the suspicions of tax evasion and influencing the media Babis owned.

The ANO movement first proposed Babis’s deputy Alena Schillerova and Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) for his replacement. Sobotka rejected these names, arguing with the candidates’ close links to the Agrofert Holding.

Babis owned the concern, including several media outlets, until February when he transferred it to trustee funds to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

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