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Opposition fails to reject govt’s amendment to civil service law

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Prague, May 23 (CTK) – The opposition failed to reject the draft amendment to the law on civil service proposed by the minority government of Andrej Babis (ANO) in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday because the Communists (KSCM) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) supported the government.

The Social Democrats (CSSD), who are considering forming a coalition government with ANO, wanted to reject the amendment, together with the other opposition parties.

The opposition Pirates and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) called for the rejection of the amendment, while the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) recommended that the government should revise the bill or postpone the discussion until the country is ruled by a proper government.

The critics say the amendment will empower the government to get rid of further civil servants and replace them with loyal persons. ANO dismisses this and says the bill is to open civil service to experts from non-state sectors.

“One need not look for any logic in it. This is about assumption of power,” KDU-CSL MP Jan Bartosek, a deputy chairman of the Chamber, said. The purpose of the bill is to occupy civil service posts by people close to the ANO movement, the KSCM and the SPD and possibly also the CSSD, he said.

Babis said the bill would reduce excessive red tape. “I would like us to pass the bill so that we can control the civil service more effectively.

ODS MP Martin Kupka challenged Babis’s claim that career officials who meet the requirements would win competitions even after the bill turns into law.

CSSD MP Jan Chvojka cited the civil service unions as saying that the bill would rock the civil service and get it under stronger political influence.

According to the draft amendment, people from outside the civil service may join the second round of open competitions. The current three-round competitions would be replaced with a two-round system and sacking of senior officials would become easier based on a new assessment system.

Civil service union leader Pavel Bednar said the planned assessment system seems non-transparent, ineffective and disadvantageous and undignified for employees. The bill weakens the position of civil servants and their independence, Bednar said.

The civil service law has been effective since 2015. Its aim has been to help the civil service be less dependent on politics. The European Union urged the Czech Republic to adopt this law.

Babis said in March that the government asked the European Commission to assess the draft amendment and take a stance on the proposed changes.

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