Prague (CTK) – Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s government approved today the abolition of 14 departments and 73 posts at ministries and the Government Office that will take effect next year, Babis has told journalists.
The move was confirmed by the Deputy Interior Minister in Charge of Civil Service, Josef Postranecky.
The changes will take effect at the beginning of next year, primarily touching upon the Government Office, reporting directly to the prime minister.
The Interior Ministry said in its report that the changes were due to the re-restructuring of work at the ministries in keeping with the aim to fulfil the programme priorities of the Babis government.
Babis said the changes will save more than 18 million crowns.
He dismissed the notion that these were any “purges.”
He said he presumed another overhaul would take place in March.
“We are behaving as a government that should really work,” Babis said, reacting to the opposition comments that his government was doing the changes before it asked the Chamber of Deputies for confidence.
“Most of the planned changes apply to the Government Office, where 28 civil service posts and 28 working positions will be abolished,” Babis said.
He said he does not consider the overall number of changes excessive for a government with 14 ministers.
It is normal that new ministers make personnel changes immediately on arrival in the post, Babis said.
President Milos Zeman appointed the Babis government last Wednesday. As this is its last meeting this year, it had the last chance to approve the changes before the New Year.
When the civil service law was prepared, its drafters argued that it would prevent changes in the civil service bodies with the arrival of every new government.
The measures were criticised by former interior minister and acting Social Democrat leader Milan Chovanec.
“The Babis government? Worse than Attila the Hun in a conquered land. The government that will not gain confidence on January 10 is trying to destroy independence of the civil service,” Chovanec has tweeted.
Postranecky has dismissed the allegation.
“The changes have concerned the political level, where the reduction is bigger,” Postranecky said.
The changes are not big and they largely aim to streamline the controlling structures of some ministries, he added.
Postranecky said the redundant officials in selected posts will not be sacked at once.
“The given persons must be dismissed, but according to the law, they must be preferentially given other suitable posts. If no such posts are available, the persons are held as a reserve and they leave civil service after another six months for which they are entitled to 80 percent of their pay.