Reconstruction of the State on government’s first year: No deadlines were met, but ANO grows more active
In its program declaration one year ago, the government pledged to “meet its priorities in time and content”, including most of the nine bills promoted by Reconstruction of the State: for example, transparent funding of political parties, extending the powers of the Supreme Audit Office, and strengthening the independence of public prosecution bodies. However, even though deadlines in the legislative plan for all drafts to be presented to the government were set for 2014, they were changed and (with the exception of the Civil Service Act) to this day the cabinet has not debated any of the bills.
Reconstruction of the State on implementation of government program statement
“Coalition MPs could be commended for changing the rules of passing the bills unduly burdened by sneaky riders, and for quick acceptance of a Constitutional amendment on extending the powers of the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ). However, the fate of bills drawn up by the government is not clear. Our principled critique of the Civil Service Act as passed has been recently confirmed by the European Commission, which is therefore reluctant to allocate EU funds to the Czech Republic. The government has not even debated the remaining bills, although this was planned for 2014. For example, the complete bill on political party financing has been deleted from the agenda of coalition meetings for six months now. Unless changes in political party funding are passed this year, the next elections will be again held without rules.”
Commentary on the activities of the ANO Movement
“In September the government was supposed to discuss four bills, but this did not come to pass. Therefore, we approached the coalition parties’ leaders in October with an offer of cooperation. Andrej Babiš was the only leader to accept our offer. ANO set up an implementation team which regularly meets with Reconstruction of the State. For instance, Deputies Vondráček and Sedláček worked to achieve consensus in the deputy working group on a finalized Bill on Registry of Contracts, which meets the requirements of Reconstruction of the State. Andrej Babiš has declared that unless the coalition arrives at an agreement, he will forward the bill to the Chamber of Deputies without coalition support. ANO also supports draft legislation on political party funding. The obvious attempts by Andrej Babiš and the ANO Movement to promote reconstruction bills are, however, being marred by Justice Minister Válková’s much-criticized amendment to the Public Prosecution Law, which would strengthen the minister’s powers to influence court proceedings.”
Commentary on the activities of ČSSD
“Jiří Dienstbier, the only active Social Democrat minister, is working on an executive draft of the Supreme Audit Office Act. However, ČSSD continues to block the bill on political party financing. Bohuslav Sobotka strictly rejects to establish an independent audit body as proposed by the Ministry of the Interior, although he promoted this measure before the elections. The Prime Minister has withheld the bill from the proceedings for six months now, while Minister Chovanec does little to have the issue discussed and smuggles quite problematic “improvements” into the bill drawn up by his office, such as DMS messages, which further complicates possible consensus.
The Social Democrats have pressed two conditions into the finalized compromise wording of the Bill on Registry of Contracts, namely the exclusion of publicly traded state-owned companies (ČEZ) and commissioning an impact study, although this is not compulsory in case of parliamentary drafts and a similar study was actually conducted for the original draft in the past.”
Commentary on the activity of KDU-ČSL
“The Christian Democrats made a unique U-turn. Although their ministries do not sponsor any of the bills, their MPs have always supported the Reconstruction of the State bills. Thus, the Bill on Registry of Contracts was actively promoted in the legislative process by MPs such as Junek, Uhlík or Hovorka. But September was a breaking point: KDU-ČSL unexpectedly replaced Jiří Junek as the registry of contracts negotiator with ex-MP Jan Kasal, now an employee of ČD Cargo. Kasal reopened long-resolved disputes over the bill’s pillars at coalition meetings. He insisted on the complete exclusion of state-owned companies and removing sanctions of invalidity of unpublished contracts, and rejected a compromise draft adjusted by the Ministry of the Interior in the working group. For more than three months now, we have been seeking an appointment with the party chairman, but now we have met with Minister Jurečka, who confirmed the core principles of the bill, and agreed specific steps to reach consensus.”
Further information and comments available from:
Jiří Boudal, email@example.com, 777 804 658
Pavel Franc, CEO, Frank Bold, 608 362 596
David Ondráčka, director, Transparency International, 605 814 786
Martin Kameník, chairman, Oživení, 776 230 779
For more details on activity of the coalition parties see here.