Final Word from Thursday, September 2, 2004





Of all the cabinet ministers, Labor Minister Zdeněk Škromach would make the best Santa Claus. He has the smile, the ho-ho-ho and the belly. He also likes to hand out presents to those who have been good (families, retirees) and lumps of coal to those who have been bad (welfare abusers). Like a department-store Santa, he sometimes promises too much, such as when he threatened to resign if pensions weren't raised more (they weren't, and he didn't). He also gets in over his head. Radio host Václav Moravec of the Czech BBC could barely contain his amazement when Škromach said that the central bank's interest-rate hike was a good thing, because depositors deserve to earn more on their money. Alexandr Mitrofanov of Právo told Czech Radio that Škromach is always working on his (Santa-like) image, so anything he says has to be taken with a grain of salt.

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