Final Word from Friday, May 10, 2002

The cabinet's decision this week to sell the power distributors to ČEZ at an artificially low price is being criticized by MP Ivan Pilip of US-DEU and others as one of the worst decisions of the Zeman government. The sale is designed so that nearly everyone involved - except taxpayers - gains. This includes ČEZ's management, its shareholders, and the politicians who helped put the deal together. Patria estimates that shareholders will get at least a Kč 10bn windfall. Others say Kč 30bn. Stock analysts are, understandably, telling their customers to buy ČEZ, and most of these shareholders happen to be foreigners. At a time when ODS is criticizing the cabinet for giving unnecessary incentives to foreign investors, the Zeman cabinet is giving them a multibillion-crown gift. If voters understood what's happening, they wouldn't like it.


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