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Babiš’s gov’t made personnel changes in first 100 days in office

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Prague, March 19 (CTK) – Selected data on the activities of Czech ANO movement’s minority government of Andrej Babis that will be in office for 100 days on Friday, March 23:

– President Milos Zeman appointed the cabinet led by ANO leader Babis on December 17, 2017, two months after the general election. All the 15 ministers were nominated by ANO.

– Babis’s cabinet asked the Chamber of Deputies to take a confidence vote in it, even though it had not secured support from the required majority of MPs. On January 16, the cabinet lost the confidence vote since only the 78 ANO MPs supported it and all the other 117 MPs present voted against it, and it resigned. It will rule until the appointment of a new cabinet. Zeman assigned Babis with the second try to form a government. Babis is negotiating with other parties about its formation and he would like to have it appointed by the summer.

– The right-wing opposition says the cabinet ruling in resignation should only focus on routine administration of the country and avoid making key decisions and personnel changes. Babis and his ministers dismissed the criticism. Political deputy ministers were replaced at most of the ministries and personnel changes were also made in institutions supervised by the ministries.

– Health Minister Adam Vojtech dismissed directors of two big university hospitals, the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL) and the National Institute of Public Health (SZU). The director of the Ceska posta state-run postal services company was dismissed as well.

– Defence Minister Karla Slechtova announced in early March that Lieutenant General Ales Opata will be new chief-of-staff, a step which was generally appreciated, unlike most of the other personnel changes made by the new ministers. However, Slechtova’s other decisions caused controversy, such as her refusal to confirm a prepared purchase of multipurpose helicopters and her open disputes with the General Staff.

– In early March, the government withdrew from a memorandum on planned lithium mining in Czech mountains signed with an Australian firm, European Metals Holdings. This issue played a role in the election campaign last autumn when ANO accused the Social Democrats (CSSD) of letting foreigners mine Czech mineral resources.

– The new government announced it would introduce cheaper fare in trains and buses for people aged over 65 and students under 26 in June.

– The government is preparing amendments to the law on civil service, which needs to be approved by the European Commission, and the law on pension insurance, under which pensions of people aged over 85 are to be raised as of next year.

– Babis’s cabinet started paying visits to the regions of the country and plans to visit them all. It visited the Zlin Region on March 5 and the Liberec Region on March 13.

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