Monday´s Comment
Threshold of Pain
15. 9. 2014

Last week we released a study showing that a third of political party sponsors are at the same time implicated in public procurement. Since 2006 sponsors have been awarded about 390 billion crowns’ worth of public contracts. Not everyone need have bribed somebody, but the conflict of interests is massive. The owner of a firm beat in public competition by a political party sponsor will be hard press to believe it was pure coincidence.

Last week we released a study (in Czech only) showing that a third of political party sponsors are at the same time implicated in public procurement. Since 2006 sponsors have been awarded about 390 billion crowns’ worth of public contracts. Not everyone need have bribed somebody, but the conflict of interests is massive. The owner of a firm beat in public competition by a political party sponsor will be hard press to believe it was pure coincidence.

I have discussed this finding with many people, but those candidly surprised (and scared) were invariably foreigners. I mean Westerners—they might know from their domestic experience only of separated cases of clash of interest, which invariably led to scandals for the parties involved. It is inconceivable to them that something like this could ever systematically occur in their countries. Not so in the Czech Republic. Czechs yawn over transgressions which would almost provoke French, maybe also Germans, to stage a public defenestration. Is only one firm in three sponsoring political parties? Surely, the figure must be underrated, must it not?

What are the lessons to be learned? Twenty-five years after the Velvet Revolution, our society’s threshold of pain is still mightily skewed. We all somehow suspect that corruption is a massive problem, but nobody will bother to tackle it until someone is caught with a carton of wine. Our study briefly appeared in the media, and then slipped into obscurity, sharing the fate of other, maybe more disconcerting findings by other authors before us. Is there a risk of conflict of interest? – Weak stuff.

Is there a remedy? Sure there us, perhaps partly to be brought about by generational change: actually, I come from the first wave of those not taught by anyone to steal from the state so as not to steal from my family. Maybe this change alone won’t help much. Think of that: society concludes that “we carried things a bit too far, fighting corruption” and time has come to help companies suffering from a shortage of public contracts and subsidies (sic!). No need to tell that this will perpetuate the mafia-style capitalism of the 1990s. Will it change? It won’t, unless we are economically outpaced by Slovakia. When it happens, some pain will eventually pierce through the general apathy. Let’s wish it happened to our brothers—if not ourselves :).

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Cases

Na Homolce Hospital, two years after

25. 6. 2014

The NFPK can probably tick off just another case. Police have detained former director of Na Homolce Hospital Dr. Vladimír Dbalý.


The Ministry of the Environment bases ruling on CZK 0.5bn dispute on Šachta & Partners legal opinion

19. 6. 2014

The Ministry’s ruling earlier this spring was based on the legal opinion of Šachta & Partners, Attorneys-at-Law concerning administrative procedures regarding the case of electrical dumping.


First penalties meted out in MPSV IT case

28. 5. 2014

Former Deputy Minister of MPSV Šiška and ex-chief of the ministry’s IT section MPSV Hojer were yesterday sentenced to six and five years in jail respectively.

 

News
  • 16. 9. 2014
    The Senate of the Prague High Court led by Dr. Romana Vostřejšová today ruled on Ivo Rittig’s legal complaint against the NFPK. The case was remanded to the City Court, which was asked to provide a more complete substantiation of its verdict.
  • 15. 9. 2014
    Last week we released a study showing that a third of political party sponsors are at the same time implicated in public procurement.
  • 8. 9. 2014
    So much has been written about the Civil Service Act time has come, I believe, to do the simplest thing now that makes sense, namely to reduce our look to what actually is at stake, why it is good for the citizen, and what actually it should encompass.
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