Prague councilors have approved the sale of nearly 3,855 city-owned dwellings — just a few hundred shy of the entire number of apartments sold last year in the Czech capital — for which the city hopes to fetch at least Kč 4 billion. There is talk, however, that speculators will manage to circumvent controls seeking to grant favorable terms only to current tenants.
Parliament’s immunity and mandate committee took no decision at their session Wednesday on the question of allowing MP Vlasta Parkanová (TOP 09), the former defense minister, to be prosecuted on abuse of office and other charges for her role in the 2009 purchase of CASA transport aircraft. But whether she can even be held liable for the ‘deliberately overpriced’ CASA contract is a matter of contention.
A luxury five-star Sofitel hotel was to arise on one of the most prestigious addresses in the Czech capital. But it was not to be. The lot on the corner of Mikulandská street and Národní třída, the avenue that runs from the Vltava River to the edge of Wenceslas Square, is still an unassuming parking lot, belying the fact that it is the most expensive plot in Prague.
Neither the Czech Ministry of Transport nor the Road and Motorway Directorate (ŘSD) will take much pleasure from the recently published findings of the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) regarding the construction of the Prague ring road: it found dozens of irregularities. Meanwhile, the total cost of the Prague ring road, calculated in 2001 to be something in excess of Kč 48 billion, has climbed to nearly Kč 107 billion.
Over the past 10 years, the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) carried out 11 audits focusing on the construction or upgrading of terrestrial communications, i.e. motorways and first class roads, rail corridors and the Elbe waterway, where, all in all, dozens of billions of crowns flow in annually. The auditors focused on prices and everything that influenced them. The result? It’s not just the costs that are flexible but also the end dates.
The Chinese plan to invest $10 billion in Central and Eastern Europe over the coming years in the region’s infrastructure, technology and ecology sectors. While the buying spree has already begun, the Czech Republic doesn’t figure in any plans Chinese investors have made public thus far. But ZTE and Huawei both operate on the Czech, and the planned auction of mobile services frequencies could attract China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator.
Czech state bodies and institutions’ key financial statements will be used to calculate the debt and deficit of public finances. Such highly sensitive information helps the markets predict whether the state can meet its commitments — but not all the data are wholly reliable, the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) warns. Clear definitions of basic accounting concepts are missing, which can lead to different interpretations of these categories and thus incomparable data. Look to Greece to understand what that can mean.
Now 16 months after Prague 7 called a tender to secure new headquarters for the district’s town hall comes a twist in the case: what had previously been presented as a classic public tender has been recast as mere “market research.” Could it be that the district mayor, Marek Ječmének (Civic Democrats, ODS) is looking to de facto cancel the tender without having to admit the process has failed – yet again?
Perhaps no new Czech law has been anticipated with such great hopes — both justified and idealistic — as the amended law on public tenders. The legislation aimed at cutting out corrupt practices from public contracts came into force on April 1. While the law is certainly a step in the right direction, as indicated by the rush to churn out tenders under the provisions of the old law before it expired, it is still far from ideal.
Despite the fact that stricter regulations governing Czech public tenders — aimed at stamping out corrupt practices — came into force on April 1, the old rules will continue to influence “the game” for some time yet. What’s more, it appears the new regulations are not completely resistant to manipulation. Czech Position tracks what went on with public tenders just before the April 1 deadline.