Senators against dismantling Contract Register Act

Senators voted today to return the amendment to the Contract Register Ac to the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate passed amendments that reject any country-wide exemptions from the duty to reveal the contents for state and city-owned enterprises. The Senate rejected the Chamber of Deputies’ motion designed to conceal to the public eyes the likes of contracts with companies such as Lesy ČR, Česká pošta or city transport firms across the Czech Republic. But Senators voted in a minor opt-out concerning the purchase of medicines. According to the Senate, the agreements signed by the Chamber of Deputies, Senate, the Office of the President of the Republic, and the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) should be also returned to the Register of Contracts.

Senators upheld the Constitutional Committee proposal, tabled by Senator Jaroslav Větrovský (ANO), to dismiss all national exemptions for state and city-operated enterprises of industrial and commercial character and grant an exception solely to the Budvar National Enterprise. Consequently the amendment returns to its original purpose before it accumulated dozens of opt-outs in the legislative process.

Senators also upheld a second motion by the Constitutional Affairs Committee, tabled by Senator Antl(ČSSD), seeking an opt-out from the publication of contracts on the purchase of medicines and healthcare supplies.

Senators also approved a motion by Sen Canov (STAN), which returns to the Contract Register the law-sanctioned contracts pertaining to the Chamber of Deputies, Senate, Office of the President of the Republic, and the NKÚ.

These Senate motions and the return of bills to the Chamber of Deputies were upheld in the final voting by all Senators for STAN and ANO, all unaffiliated Senators and all but one Senators from KDU-ČSL. Some ČSSD senators also joined the YES camp. In this way, KDU-ČSL Senators upheld their party’s stance during the voting in the lower house, where some of their deputies voted to allow exemptions on a national scale.

The Chamber of Deputies passed the contract registration bill in November 2015. From 1 July 2016 it was subjected to a one-year testing period, during which sanctions for non-published contracts were not applied. Meanwhile, the contract register reported more than 430,000 contracts published, to the tune of over two trillion crowns. Most institutions that must comply with the registration requirement have not reported any big problems. The contract register has led to many important revelations (such as that hospitals charge insurers reimbursement including the bonuses subsequently reimbursed by pharmaceutical firms, or that the State still trades with many opaque corporations).

According to a public opinion research study commissioned by the Open Society NGO, almost three quarters of the electorate rejects general exemptions from the state and city firms’ duty towards the state and 80 percent of the electorate would consider the parliament vote to decide about casting preferential votes in the next elections.

Rekonstrukce státu officials react to today’s voting:

Senators are under microscope and many did not dare ‘boning out’ the register of companies. But many Senators called for the register to go until the last minute. This time, public interest prevailed over clientelist structures. Public pressure brings fruit in season and deputies have a chance to amend for their cardinal mistake. 
/Janusz Konieczny, Anticorruption Endowment/

Senators today asserted their import and why we need a Senate. I applaud the KDU-ČSL Senators for living up to their commitment and reversing what most of their lower house colleagues would have made possible. ČSSD and KSČM will throw spanner in the works, after today’s voting, as they conceal most public money.

/Pavel Franc, Frank Bold/

The Senate acted as the necessary insurer of the legislative process. The Senate shielded municipal and other public organizations from the absolute legal void wrought by amateur parliamentarism. The opt-out on the purchase of medicines and stuff that slipped through the Senate’s fingers is a sad price for the faulty legislative effort to exempt Budvar from legislation.

/Oldřich Kužílek, Open Society /

The last debate on the contract register ultimately goes to show the prevalence of politicians striving to achieve greater transparency and responsibility in the management of public fund spending. This comes as good news to the citizen.

/Martin Kameník, Oživení/

With the help of the Register, we pointed out the massive dodging of the Public Procurement Act by hospitals, amounting to tens of millions crowns a year. Our submission is subject to review by the European Commission and the ÚOHS. Now the Senators work to obscure the fact that most of the healthcare procurement happens under the counter.

/Jiří Skuhrovec, EconLab/

Bar some exceptions that survived the voting, the Senate ruling uniquely upholds the importance of the Register of Contracts. Senators upheld their relevant status in the Czech parliamentary system, since they can put right the mistakes and faulty bills passed by the Chamber of Deputies.

/Tomáš Trenkler, Naši politici/

Media Contact:

Václav Zeman, Rekonstrukce státu

tel.: 734 202 656

mail: vaclav.zeman@frankbold.org

Additional Information:

Survey: Deputies intent on concealing foul practices in State-owned companies and enterprises (Open Society, 6.4.2017)

http://www.otevrenaspolecnost.cz/uz-jste-to-slyseli/5365-podle-verejnosti-poslanci-chteji-utajit-nekale-praktiky-ve-statnich-firmach-a-podnicich 
Public figures urge coalition parties to correct Contract Register (Open Society)
http://www.otevrenaspolecnost.cz/uz-jste-to-slyseli/5406-vyzva-koalicnim-stranam-k-naprave-registru-smluv 
Legal Experts: Could an unclear interpretation of endorsed Contract Register opt-outs cause legal chaos?

http://www.rekonstrukcestatu.cz/cs/archiv-novinek/11389-anketa-pravnich-expertu-muze-nejasny-vyklad-schvalenych-vyjimek-z-registru-smluv-zpusobit-pravni-chaos- 
Five myths to conceal national economics results

http://www.rekonstrukcestatu.cz/cs/archiv-novinek/11466-5-mytu-ktere-maji-utajit-hospodareni-statu