Finance minister unveils plan for administrative beehive on outskirts of Prague

Andrej Babiš, photo: Filip Jandourek

Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has proposed building a new administrative compound on the northern outskirts of Prague which would pool civil servants from several ministries who are now housed in various buildings around the city. The minister says the plan would save money, increase work efficiency and make life easier for people who need to settle administrative matters for which they would currently need to visit several buildings in different parts of Prague.

Andrej Babiš,  photo: Filip Jandourek
The country’s finance minister – billionaire businessman Andrej Babiš - is used to thinking big and cutting costs. His vision of a new administrative compound for 11,000 employees in Prague’s Letnany district is clearly a business decision driven first and foremost by the fact that it would enable the sale of lucrative real estate in the city centre. Finance Ministry employees alone are housed in 38 buildings around Prague, many of them in extremely lucrative locations. Other ministries function in a similar manner.

Mr. Babiš argues that this is neither cost-effective nor practical. According to his plan the new administrative compound for 11,000 people, could be built for around 6 billion crowns and could be financed from the sale of the Finance Ministry’s buildings alone. Its capacity would far exceed the needs of the Finance Ministry which has 6,500 employees and Mr. Babiš has suggested that the compound could be home base to other ministries or institutions as well.

The finance minister says that administrative compounds such as this are common in other European capitals, for instance Paris has a tower block in which several ministries are housed. The compound would have incredible synergy, Mr. Babiš told the Pravo daily, communication and logistics would be more effective, we could economize on security costs, cleaning services and in many other areas.

While the minister’s arguments sound convincing, few civil servants are cheering. Many have become accustomed to working in attractive locations in the centre of Prague. The Finance Ministry itself has its headquarters in the Lesser Town, not far from the two chambers of Parliament. Letnany, on the northern outskirts of Prague, where the metro station borders on an open field, seems like a dismal alternative. But, the finance minister has swept away arguments relating to travel and loss of time, saying that civil servants as well as ministers themselves could easily take the metro to the city centre, adding that he himself would be happy to do so.