Final Word from Wednesday, October 22, 2003

František Mrázek, a powerful but controversial businessman, told Hospodářské noviny that the people who take over Severočeské coal mines will also gain control of ČEZ and will have a hold on the government. There's nothing better left to buy, he said. All the more reason, it would seem, for the government to be careful about the sale. Yet Premier Vladimír Špidla has let the matter get out of his control. Industry Minister Milan Urban and Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka are trying to push through a quick sale under conditions that have raised questions of cronyism and have brought on criticism from the European Union. Špidla has been on a winning streak lately, but this sale threatens to soil his image as an honest politician who's trying to do the right thing. In the case of bankruptcy reform, he stepped in before it was too late. If he wants to do the same for coal privatization, he'll have to act quickly. doly Appian Group Sokolovsk uhelná


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