• Global Outlook

Conflict of Interests

Many people are confused by recent political developments surrounding the Czech Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš. People are rioting and protesting in the streets, claiming that holding the position of Head of State at the same time as he serves as the head of Agrofert is a clear conflict of interest. Although the Prime Minister himself denies that he owns and controls the company, the European Commission has proven otherwise. The publication of such reports has provoked an already angry country and created a new wave of resentment, and rightfully so. Babiš continues to accumulate power and money during the COVID19 pandemic, his empire is growing and so is the damage that Babiš is inflicting on the country.

Credit: CT24.CZ

Agrofert is a European front-runner in many key industries, such as agriculture, food, chemical, construction, logistics, forestry and energy. This conglomerate was initially founded by Babiš in 1993 and the European Commission uncovered undisputed evidence that it is still under his majority control today but forget Babiš and his agenda and let’s look at the big picture.

It is probably clear to everyone that individuals who are in the public sector and certain private sectors do not have to work hard to line their pockets. Unfair practices and corruption have become part of the day to day. The wheels of industry must be greased. Unfortunately, corruption is a long-standing and common problem. There are many examples of successful companies or projects which were jeopardized because they interfered with someone's income. There are examples from around the world, however since we started out in the Czech Republic, we will continue there.

A typical example of the prevalence of power-hungry politicians is the OKD, the Czech coal company. Over the past twenty years, this company has been continuously privatized, appropriated and brought back from the brink of bankruptcy. From the start, many politicians were involved in running OKD and served on its board, acting against the best interests of the mining company in the name of making money for themselves. Private investors were encouraged to save the company, which they did, but then were set up to take the fall when the government appropriated it and ran it into the ground - again. It would not be surprising to find that the rumors of Babiš’s involvement here as well, are true.

It is hard to believe that Babiš, then Minister of Finance, pushing for the sale of OKD at a loss, was only a coincidence. This may seem extreme, but this is just a drop in the ocean of businesses worldwide that went under due to political games. It would certainly not be a surprise that not only the prime minister, but also the president has metaphoric blood on his hands.

Babiš is not an endangered species or a lone wolf. He’s is not the only one of his kind and if we continue like this, he won’t be the last. Hungary has been struggling with a similar oligarch as head of state for several years, America has just gotten rid of one. Democracies are breaking down and rich and powerful politicians are building their fortunes on their backs. The tides can change.

Don’t change the player. Change the game.

David Černý

Contributing Writer

Global Outlook News

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