Prague Congress Center sale questioned

So, is it politics, or budding transparency?

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has told the Czech daily Lidove noviny he doesn’t like the looks of the deal done with Penta Investments and Zatisi Catering before local elections for the sale of the Prague Congress Center.

Actually, it’s the smell that’s bothering him. “This matter has stunk since the beginning,” the paper quotes him as saying. “The Ministry of Finance will be dealing with it. Given the level of stench, we’ll be dealing with it extremely carefully.”

Prague Congress Center is crippled by CZK 2.2bn in debts dating back to state guaranteed bonds issued when the center was renovated a decade ago. The Penta and Zatisi consortium proposed to buy all the center’s property, excluding the actual real estate, for CZK 1.2bn on condition that the city kick in another CZK 370m in debt relief and if it gets the right to operate the center for the next 24 years.

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