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Gov’t opposes limited duty to release property statements

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Prague, Jan 10 (CTK) – Data from the central register of property statements of Czech politicians should continue to be available to all without any limit and no politicians should be exempted from the duty to submit their property statements to it, the minority government of Andrej Babis (ANO) decided on Wednesday.

The immunity of the 15 judges of the Constitutional Court should not concern minor offences, the cabinet agreed at its meeting this morning, the Government Office press section announced.

However, both bills still need to be passed by both houses of parliament.

The cabinet also recommended to newly set the borders of 17 of 27 wards before the autumn election to the Senate as a result of changes in the number of inhabitants. This is a routine step concerning small changes taken before elections. As the draft amendment was proposed by the Senate, only the other house, the Chamber of Deputies, is to deal with it now.

The Mayors and Independents (STAN) submitted a bill under which local politicians who are not paid for their work at municipal offices would not have to release their property statements.

The STAN would also like the access to the central register of the property statements to be limited. People would have to apply to be given access and they would get a password valid for six months.

Last month, a group of senators challenged the law on the conflict of interest, arguing that it may paralyse municipal authorities because many capable people will be unwilling to run for the posts.

According to the government’s report on the STAN’s proposal, the present legislation guarantees “the highest possible transparency leading to minimum corruption risks at all levels of public administration.” Both the content of the property statements and the groups of people who are obliged to release them are among the key measures to regulate the conflict of interest, the report said.

The draft amendment limiting the immunity of constitutional judges was worked out by senator Eliska Wagnerova, a former Constitutional Court (US) member. This would make the immunity of US judges similar to that of lawmakers.

Under Czech legislation, a constituency or a ward needs to have a number of inhabitants that is close to the average. In particular, their number must not be more than 15 percent higher or lower than the average. In case of Senate elections, one ward has 130,000 inhabitants on average.

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