Final Word from Monday, June 30, 2003

In late-March the cabinet canceled the Kč 125bn contract with Housing & Construction for building the D47 highway, but the issue won't go away. The police now plan to question all the ministers of the Zeman cabinet, which had approved the deal. This includes Vladimír Špidla, Stanislav Gross and several other current ministers. Špidla's cabinet has never said officially that corruption was the reason for canceling the contract and has always instead talked about the high cost. However, U.S. Ambassador Craig Stapleton praised the cancellation in Hospodářské noviny earlier this month and said it was a major anti-corruption move (even though Haliburton of the U.S. was a member of the D47 consortium). The cabinet never publicly protested against Stapleton's remarks, thereby giving them more weight. It'll be curious if the police now find that the deal was squeaky clean.


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