Government aims to streamline legislation in fight against corruption
On Monday, the government announced it was planning to streamline legislation to help make the country's fight against corruption more effective. Analysis suggests corruption remains a major problem, especially in the case of public tenders, which - critics contend - are often not transparent enough and are all too open to bribes. Although according to some watchdog groups, the situation improved slightly last year many corruption cases ultimately go uncovered or are never fully resolved.
Currently, watchdog groups like Transparency International contend that corruption in the Czech Republic ranks among the highest in Europe. While the numbers released on Monday dealt only with the state sector, clearly there are no areas were corruption can't be found: the head of TI's Prague chapter Adriana Krnacova told Czech Radio that "vulnerable was any area involving public funds where processes were not transparent enough".
Paradoxically, as many in the opposition were quick to point out, Monday's government meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek in the absence of the prime minister. Why paradox? Mr Cunek himself is accused of taking a bribe of 500,000 Czech crowns from when he was the mayor of the Moravian town of Vsetin. His chairing of the meeting, not surprisingly, met with a good deal of criticism. Social Democrat shadow justice minister, Marie Benesova:
"It doesn't go together: a government that says it will fight corruption yet retains a member accused of it."
But Interior Minister Ivan Langer defended Mr Cunek by saying that unless it was proven otherwise in a court of law, the presumption of innocence in his case had to be maintained.