Wednesday, 23 August 2017

ANO leadership has three candidates for finance minister

ČTK |
17 May 2017

Prague, May 16 (CTK) - The ANO leadership is considering three candidates for the post of Czech finance minister, including ANO's MP Ivan Pilny, Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), whose sacking was proposed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), said on Tuesday.

He refused to disclose the other names.

He said he would give the final proposal to Sobotka at their meeting on Wednesday.

"We have addressed three candidates for the post. All of them have agreed to possibly occupy the post," Babis said.

The ANO leadership will decide on the definitive candidate in the night, but will not release the name.

Babis will first announce it to Sobotka at a tete-a-tete meeting on Wednesday, he said, refusing to release the exact place and time of their meeting.

Babis only said he expected Sobotka to accept the proposed candidate who would meet his criteria.

On Monday, Sobotka rejected the proposal that Environment Minister Richard Brabec (NO) become a new finance minister. Sobotka argued with Brabec's links to the Agrofert holding, which Babis owned until February when he transferred it to trustee funds to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

Sobotka also refused to name Alena Schillerova, Babis's current deputy, as his successor. He criticised her responsibility for the slow practice of the Financial Administration (FS) in controlling the firms that issued the one-crown bonds. Babis bought such bonds from Agrofert in the past.

Babis said tonight that he would give no ultimatum to Sobotka if he did not want to accept ANO's new nomination. However, Sobotka's behaviour will clearly show whether he really wishes to terminate this crisis or not, he added.

Babis said earlier on Tuesday he had the feeling he was only being used as a front for a dispute between President Milos Zeman and Sobotka.

"We have other quality candidates, but I have the feeling that Sobotka does not want to solve the crisis," Babis said.

"If Sobotka claims that the coalition pact is valid, then I hope he will approve the candidate. After Zeman returns [from China], the government will continue, there will be a new minister. We have some candidates," Babis said.

He said he was interested in solving the crisis, he did not want to be in the government any longer and also did not want to be any reason of a dispute between Zeman and Sobotka.

Zeman has refused to dismiss Babis despite Sobotka's insistence on his proposal.

Babis dismissed the criticism of the FS for for what some call its reluctant checks of one-crown bonds.

"During my tenure, we did more work than all our predecessors since the revolution [the 1989 ousting of the Communist regime]. I am not vainglorious, but facts confirm this," he added.

"The criticism of FS is unacceptable irrespective of whether I am in office or not," Babis. said

Babis faces a conflict of interest because as a finance minister he controls the FS, a body that is supposed to investigate his controversial purchase of untaxed one-crown bonds from the Agrofert company in 2013 when he owned it, Sobotka said last week.

FS trade unions protested against what they called belittling of the work of its employees in an open letter sent to Sobotka earlier on Tuesday.

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