31. května 2016 | News

O co jde ministru Brabcovi kolem elektroodpadů?

The Ministry of the Environment is working to further consolidate the privileged position of several private companies in the field of electric waste disposal. Since 2005, they have “pocketed” billions of crowns’ worth of recycling fees. The State has no leverage on them, although the legal duty to pay recycling fees has been imposed. Electric waste recycling is a source of fresh revenues. Until recently the Minister of the Environment promised he’d put things right. What’s behind such an about-face?    

The Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) has provided the Ministry of the Environment with its findings about the electric waste issue. Findings were provided also by the Office for the Protection of Competition. Within the framework of draft legislation concerning selected end-of-life products (“the Law”), tabled for a commentary procedure at the start of the year, the Ministry openly voted in favour of supporting the monopoly ambitions of some selected entities (known as the operators of collective systems). This is a significant departure from the Ministry’s earlier promises, made in public.  

The draft of the Law was preceded by an “electro-amendment” the Ministry presented to Parliament in 2014. This legal adjustment embodied a regulation enabling selected private concerns to actually void the decisions by the Regional Offices, concerning the disposal of selected types of waste. Environment Minister Richard Brabec virtually “beseeched” a Senate meeting in the summer of 2014 to pass the amendment and promised to have a comprehensive remedy included in the final text of the Law. He also said during a general debate:

“Truth is that there have been many working groups at the Ministry in the past few years that worked on but never agreed anything, because when you have lobbyist groups that have locked horns, there must be somebody to come and say, this is north and that’s where we are going, and this is where we cut it off, because agreement is not possible here, here and anywhere.”

The Minister pointed his finger to the north. But he went south. In the draft of this Law, for the first time in its 23-year-long history, the State has renounced its responsibility and shifted it on to selected private entities. The state makes it illegal to not only collect, but also to recycle out-of-life electrical appliances without their consent. This virtually prohibits the emergence of new collective systems. It restricts the supplying of “unwelcome” recyclers by way of smaller waste-collection systems and actually threatens the very survival of such systems. The “chosen” concerns enjoy extra privileges. Lobbyist groups have won the day.       

It should be noted that the director of the Ministry’s waste department, Jaromír Manhart, issued a decision in 2014 about a half-billion-crown dispute on the basis of a legal opinion of Šachta & Partners (now MSB Legal). His move condoned to a powerful clientelist clique, mainly gathering around the firm ASEKOL. The law firm formulated its opinion in 2011 in favour of the sponsor, which was the Ministry of the Environment. The ministry then denied it was principal. Later on, however, the Ministry officially described Deputy Minister Ivan Hlaváč as the man who commissioned the expertise from the Šachta & Partners law agency, outlined the areas to be considered, and provided documentation to the process team. Hlaváč, who was earlier associated with senior ODS figures, is a member of the board of directors of the company ČEZ.

The Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) is a fully independent initiative by people radically unprepared to accept a high level of corruption, infiltrating state administration. Our goal is to support and contribute to the building of ethical values in a democratic society, to help expose corruption in state administration, and to support projects exposing corrupt practices.

Contacts: Martin Soukenka, member of NFPK Analytical Team, e-mail: martin.soukenka@nfpk.cz