“We want to actively manage the national budget and to have a ‘click-toopen’ version of the budget, down to the smallest detail. We want citizens to be able to see – at last – where their taxes go”, Babiš told Czech Television.
The treasury chief also intends to reinstate the financial police, which had been established by previous Social Democratic (ČSSD) cabinets and produced some good results in uncovering tax fraud before being scattered to the four winds by the then interior minister for the Civic Democrats (ODS) Ivan Langer, who cited rivalry among specialised police departments as the reason. Babiš said, “There is also the possibility of combining the financial police with the customs department, as in Slovakia, where they have 700 policemen in balaclavas and organise raids”.
Experts estimate that carousel fraud amounts to 2.7 percent of Czech GDP annually. Slovakborn billionaire Babiš also said that this country’s neighbour to the east has been prosecuting such fraud successfully for some 18 months – which also means that fraudsters have been moving operations to the Czech Republic.
He also confirmed rumours that Milan Cícer, head of the influential Financial and Analytic Department (FAÚ) and a close associate of Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09), is stepping down. “He cited family reasons and has applied for a position at the Office for Government Representation in Property Affairs,” Babiš said. Cícer is to be replaced later in February by Libor Kazda, who resigned as head of the Pilsen branch of anticorruption police last year.
The FAÚ, established in 1996, is charged with combating money laundering and enjoys extensive powers: all financial institutions are required by law to report any suspect money transfers to the department, which collaborates with the police, intelligence services and financial authorities.
|Healthcare must wait|
|Finance Minister Andrej Babiš will not furnish just yet the CZK 3.5bn needed to acquire irrecoverable debts of state companies owed to health insurers. He first wants new healthcare minister Svatopluk Němeček (ČSSD) to demonstrate the existing flows of financial resources through the healthcare sector. “Every year, CZK 220bn passes through health insurers in the country, and CZK 150bn through VZP alone. Yet no-one knows where those funds are headed,” Babiš said. By purchasing bad debts, he hopes to help the insurers to lower the public health insurance deficit and compensate losses caused by the scrapping of healthcare fees.|