Czech beer lovers last week launched an internet-based campaign against the possible sale of the world-famous Budějovický Budvar brewery in České Budějovice to the global drinks giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, which produces beer under the Budweiser name. Rumors that the “godfather” lobbyists close to the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS) are planning the sale emerged shortly after Petr Bendl (ODS) took control of the Agriculture Ministry. Meanwhile, the brewery is doing itself no favors by refusing to give details about marketing and other payments as a controversial ministry audit continues.
District administrations in Prague reportedly plan a home privatization bonanza in 2012, with up to three times as many city-owned apartments set to be sold to their residents as there were in 2011. According to estimates, the sales should raise a total of between Kč 8 billion and Kč 10 billion. The Czech capital has nevertheless been slower than other major towns to off-load its residential properties.
A well-informed and high-placed politician with the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS), the largest of the three parties in the governing coalition, shares his insights into the recent initiatives and intrigues concerning state-owned Budějovický Budvar brewery, the producer of the original Budweiser beer.
Prague 2, the generally posh district composed of Vyšehrad, and parts of the Vinohrady, Nové Město and Nusle neighborhoods, has a high percentage of flats still in municipal hands — 17 percent. Whether to proceed with the privatization of city-owned dwellings was a major campaign issue in local elections; authorities may finally reach a decision and draw up a list of properties to be unloaded.
The Ostrava branch of the anti-corruption police last week began a criminal review into the role of former Social Democrat (ČSSD) Prime Minister Stanislav Gross and his then Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, the current ČSSD chairman, in the 2004 privatization of 46 percent of OKD coal company for a fraction of the assessed value, the Právo daily reported Tuesday.
In connection with hospitals, “privatization” is often considered almost a dirty word in the Czech Republic; thanks to political scaremongering, the general public equates private ownership with reduced care and the overcharging of patients. In reality, privatized hospitals are operating well — owners are investing, the doctors are staying put, and the patients are satisfied.