The opposition and professional unions and associations have recently been critical of Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Sikela and Interior Minister Vit Rakusan. Photo Credit: vlada.cz

Prague, Sept 1 (CTK) – Czech PM Petr Fiala (ODS) told CTK today that he has confidence in each member of his cabinet, and the series of attacks they are facing is an attempt to undermine the government’s unity.

The opposition and professional unions and associations have recently been critical of Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Sikela (STAN).

The Fiala government, comprised of the SPOLU coalition of his ODS, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), and TOP 09, together with the Pirate Party and Mayors and Independents (STAN) will face a vote of no confidence in the lower house today, triggered by the opposition ANO and SPD.

“I suppose that many arguments will be stated today at the lower house session. That is why I will only generally state that each member of my cabinet has my support. I am the head of a coalition government and the series of attacks we have been facing is an attempt to undermine our unity,” Fiala said.

The opposition claims that the cabinet is not doing enough to help Czech citizens in the time of the energy crisis. The government is also being criticised by various professional organisations.

The Hotels and Restaurants Association, for instance, complained that the cabinet has not reacted to the demands of professional associations regarding the high energy prices. Shop operators have also asked for much more detailed information on the government’s plans, said COOP marketing and development head Lukas Nemcik on Tuesday.

The cabinet’s lack of action to support companies facing rising electricity and gas prices was raised by the Czech Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts last week.

The government promised to earmark CZK 66 billion for aid to households and firms with high energy prices. On Wednesday, Sikela announced that he would propose to the government an increase in support for households. He said he wants to focus mainly on vulnerable cases, thus speeding up the process of identifying the beneficiaries.

He will also table a proposal to accelerate the establishment of a state energy dealer that would help the regions and hospitals buy energy. He is preparing support for industry as well.

However, the criticism is also coming from some members of the coalition parties. Senate chairman Milos Vystrcil (ODS) told Blesk.cz on Wednesday that the government was proceeding slowly, and some ministers were underestimating the situation.

Today, Vystrcil told CTK that he believed Sikela would manage to negotiate a solution at a European level that would lead to the lowering of energy prices, and that he would quickly push through other necessary steps on the national level. “He has my full support in this,” he wrote.

KDU-CSL deputy leader Marek Vyborny also expressed a “certain level of interest in the Industry Ministry’s ability to deal with some of the things a little faster.”

Vyborny told CTK today, however, that only government unity would help resolve the situation, and he was not calling for Sikela’s resignation at all, adding that it would not help either the situation or the citizens. The coalition is not considering it, he said.

There was some disunity in the coalition regarding Petr Mlejnek’s appointment as head of the Czech civilian intelligence service (UZSI). He was criticised for his contact with Michal Redl, who is among the suspects accused in the Dosimeter case of vast corruption at the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP).

The Pirate Party’s parliamentary group called for him to be replaced. Mlejnek resigned from his office on Wednesday.

The Pirates were originally planning to hold an internal party referendum this weekend on whether the party should distance itself from the government coalition in Mlejnek’s case. The party has since cancelled the meeting following his resignation, a spokeswoman for the party confirmed to CTK.

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