Babiš: Government has fulfilled around fifth of tasks in first year
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says his government has fulfilled around one-fifth of the tasks it set itself when it was appointed a year ago this week. The ANO-Social Democrats cabinet discussed its achievements in its first 12 months at a meeting on Monday evening, a day after mass protests in Prague against Mr. Babiš.
The government outlined 657 tasks on taking office. It has carried out 138 of them so far, the PM said.
On Wednesday the coalition is expected to win a no-confidence vote called after a preliminary European Commission audit found Mr. Babiš to be in conflict of interest in connection his business affairs.
In April police recommended he face trial on a different matter, the abuse of EU subsidies. Mr. Babiš installed a new justice minister the next day, sparking a series of demonstrations against him that culminated on Sunday.
The Czech Ministry of Defence has signed a contract to purchase 62 Titus
armoured personnel carriers from the company Eldis Pardubice for over CZK 6
billion, a spokesperson said on Monday. The Czech Army should receive the
vehicles in 2022 and 2023.
The chief of the General Staff, Aleš Opata, said the Titus would replace the army’s current outmoded equipment. Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar said the contract would contribute to the modernisation of the country’s ground forces and successfully concluded a project begun four years ago.
The government has approved a draft state budget for 2020 envisaging a
deficit of CZK 40 billion. The same level of deficit is also expected in
the following two years under the plan produced by the minister of finance,
Alena Schillerová. She said a priority of next year’s budget would be
increasing old aged pensions as well as teachers’ salaries.
Junior coalition partners the Social Democrats abstained from the vote, saying the budget was insufficiently generous to those most in need.
The draft budget is subject to change and Ms. Schillerová will hold consultations on it with other cabinet members through the summer.
The Communist Party, which supports the minority government on key votes, is demanding a maximum deficit of CZK 30 billion next year.
The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, says it is important that none of
the so-called “spitzenkandidats” received majority support to become
president of the European Commission at a European Council meeting last
week. Spitzenkandidats are the leaders of the parties in the European
Parliament that did best in elections in May. Some of them don’t like the
territory of the Visegrad Four countries, Mr. Babiš said at a conference
on economic diplomacy at the Czech Foreign Ministry on Monday Morning.
The Czech leader said it was important that the successor to Jean-Claude Juncker not comment on political matters but rather focus on implementing the conclusions of the European Council.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says the more money his government pumps
into salaries, investments, science and research, the more people are
dissatisfied. He made the comments a day after an estimated quarter of a
million people called for his resignation at the biggest demonstration in
Prague in almost three decades.
Mr. Babiš said it was a strange situation, adding that people could contact him by email or SMS if they had any doubts or wished to ask any questions.
Sunday’s mass protest was the latest in a series demanding independence for the Czech judiciary. After the police recommended Mr. Babiš be charged over alleged EU subsidy abuse he installed a new justice minister, a move critics say could lead to interference in his case.
The PM said on Sunday that this was a mistaken suggestion. He said it was incredible that some protesters had called for him to be sent straight to jail and the president placed in a coffin but added that protests were a part of democracy.
The recently appointed Czech minister of industry and trade, Karel
Havlíček, is in favour of lifting European Union sanctions against
Russia, Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday. Mr. Havlíček, who is an
ANO appointee, said at a recent meeting with the Russian ambassador to
Prague that the sanctions were harming the Czech Republic and ought to be
removed, the newspaper said, citing sources at the ministries of industry
and trade and foreign affairs.
The EU introduced the penalties in 2014 following Russian aggression toward Ukraine.
The minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, and the minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, told Hospodářské noviny that the Prague government continued to support them.
Trains travelling at 200 kilometres an hour are set to go into trial
operation in the Czech Republic in August, Czech Television reported on
Monday. The Railway Infrastructure Administration plans to test them out
around a tunnel on a five-kilometre stretch of the line between Plzeň and
Prague. Other, longer sections of the route are also being considered for
The last time train speeds increased in this country was 25 years ago, when velocities went up to 160 kilometres an hour.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says his ANO-Social Democrats cabinet will
discuss how much of its joint programme has been achieved at a meeting on
Monday, just days before the first anniversary of the government’s
On Wednesday the coalition will face a no-confidence vote called after a preliminary European Commission audit found Mr. Babiš to be in conflict of interests due to his business interests.
The minority government is expected to survive the vote, with ANO, the Social Democrats and the Communists – who support the government on key votes – raising their hands against.
The coalition can boast increases in salaries and pensions, though promised reforms of the pension system have yet to materialise.
An enormous demonstration against the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš,
took place at Prague’s Letná Plain on Sunday late afternoon and evening.
Organisers said around a quarter of a million people were in attendance,
which would make it the biggest event of its kind in the city since the
fall of communism almost three decades ago.
Many protestors carried Czech and European Union flags along with signs, some of which bore the names of cities and towns around the Czech Republic.
Sunday’s protest was the latest in a series that began in late April calling on Mr. Babiš to stand down and for the removal of his appointment as justice minister, Marie Benešová. She got the job just one day after police recommended that Mr. Babiš face criminal charges over the alleged abuse of EU subsidies.
The series of protests has been organised by the civic group Million Moments for Democracy. They have announced that their next major demonstration will take place on Letná Plain in November, the 30th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution.
ANO leader Babiš denies all the accusations against him, which he says are part of a political campaign.