PM Babis Seeks to Reduce Transparency of Government

Lany, Central Bohemia, Jan 2 (CTK) – Czech PM Andrej Babis (ANO) considers the draft changes to the government’s order of procedure, proposed by Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (both ANO), practical, he told reporters today, adding that his government wants to conceal nothing and will be transparent.


The draft changes have been criticised by the opposition, saying it might restrict the public’s access to information.


The opposition also dislikes it that in some cases, it will not be announced how individual ministers voted at cabinet meetings, and that the prime minister’s powers will be extended.


Pelikan, who heads the Government Legislative Council, previously said the draft changes aim to make the government’s work and the discussion on various documents faster and more effective.


“Mr Pelikan’s proposals are more or less practical,” Babis said.


Pelikan has proposed, for example, that the number of ministries and offices that obligatorily comment on materials before the government’s vote on them be reduced, mainly in the case of non-legislative materials.


The proposal also reduces the group of the people authorised to attend cabinet meetings. As a result, officials such as the Statistical Office chairperson, the state secretary for European affairs and the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) president would not have to be present at all cabinet meetings, Pelikan suggests.


NKU president Miroslav Kala criticised the plan recently.


Babis said today that the presence of the NKU head is required by law. “I think that an unnecessary misunderstanding has arisen in this respect,” Babis said.


The draft order of procedure was criticised by opposition politicians including Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy chairman Martin Kupka and TOP 09 deputy chairwoman Marketa Pekarova.


The Pirates’ deputy group head Jakub Michalek addressed a written question to Babis over the draft today.


Babis is restricting the transparency of the government debates, of the public’s access to information and the ministers’ responsibility for their steps, Michalek wrote in a press release.


“In his draft amendment, the justice minister has proposed the abolition of the [release of the] way individual ministers voted, with which I resolutely disagree,” Michalek wrote.


Pelikan’s amendment, if implemented, would make the government’s decision making opaque and the responsibility of individual cabinet members will be impossible to determine, Michalek wrote.


Babis’s ANO minority government was appointed in mid-December. The lower house’s vote on confidence in it is scheduled for January 10.