The Defense Committee rejected the schedule for the purchase of IFV‘s: The contract should not be signed at the time of the election

The Defense Committee rejected the schedule for the purchase of IFV‘s: The contract should not be signed at the time of the election
Author: Czech Army|Caption: BVP-2 of the 7th Brigade
22 / 03 / 2021, 10:00

One of the important points of last week‘s 43rd meeting of the Lower House Defense Committee was informing deputies about the contract for the tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles. The meeting was attended by Minister of Defense Lubomír Metnar, Deputy Minister for Acquisitions Lubor Koudelka and Chief of General Staff General Aleš Opata. In the final, the deputies of the Committee approved a resolution rejecting the IFV purchase schedule presented by the Ministry. According to the schedule, the signing of the contract should or could take place at the time of this year's elections to the Chamber of Deputies.

The rapporteur for this item was MP Karel Krejza (ODS). He said at the outset that the old BVP-2 needed to be replaced, but that we were still waiting for the call for final bids, which could lead to the contract not actually being signed until November or December. For October, the president announced the date of regular elections to the Chamber of Deputies. MP Krejza recalled that there were doubts about the dates of the whole contract as early as last autumn, when the Defense Committee called on the Ministry of Defense to prepare alternative options so as not to jeopardize the commitment to the Alliance (to have a modern brigade task force on 1 January 2026) and mentioned the Ministry's reply in the sense that the form of purchase by an intergovernmental agreement would not be advantageous due to the absence of competition. He described the deadline for signing the contract falling within the election period as a problem.

See also: MoD plans to finalize the IFV tender very close to the election in October – Czech Republic has bad experiences with such timing

The members of the Committee were interested, among other things, why the Ministry of Regional Development was not contacted within the inter-ministerial comment procedure on changes in the project. According to Lubor Koudelka, Deputy Minister for Acquisitions, this was because the Ministry of Regional Development is responsible for the method of assignment. The Government decided on this already in 2018 and there was no change in this matter.

TOP09 MP Karel Schwarzenberg called the questions posed to the Ministry of Defense representatives futile. He recalled the problem with 10 billion crowns, which the Government transferred to its budget reserve before the end of the year, stating that it would be returned to the defense after the New Year. However, only half was returned, and the other remains "in sight". According to Schwarzenberg, this indicates "the utter irresponsibility, frivolity and unreliability of this government."

Radovan Vích (SPD) objected to pointing out the problems associated with the coronavirus pandemic. He said that the deputies were also able to act, and that the situation was not a reason to postpone the acquisition of IFV‘s. He sees the budget as a fundamental problem. He recalled the unreturned 5 billion crowns and the intention of the Ministry of Finance to reduce the budgets of individual ministries by 5%, which is in the case of the Ministry of Defense the amount corresponding to the planned first payment for new IFV‘s. In his opinion, according to the submitted schedule, the signing of the contract with the supplier cannot be achieved until the parliamentary elections. In this context, he added that in a state of emergency, the Government has the option of postponing elections for up to half a year under the Security Act, and expressed concern that a significant and irrevocable commitment would be signed by the resigned Government without political responsibility and that the acquisition would proceed like the very problematic purchase of Pandur II armored vehicles in the pact.

See also: The Army will get back only 5 billion crowns and it must wait again for the remaining money

Jan Bartošek (KDU-ČSL), not very satisfied with the general tone of Minister Metnar's answers, then asked Koudelka, Deputy Minister for Acquisitions, a series of specific questions. The answers showed that the Ministry of Defense is actually counting on the signing of the contract with the supplier at the turn of the 3rd and 4th quarters of this year. More precisely at the beginning of October, just before the elections. Mr Schwarzenberg reminded that while in the Czech Republic we are postponing the IFV tests and postponing strategic acquisitions due to the effects of the pandemic, conflicts in various parts of the planet are not affected by the pandemic. He cited Mali or Syria as examples.

At the suggestion of rapporteur Krejza, the deputies voted against the presented schedule for the purchase of tracked IFV‘s, together with a call for the Government formulated by MP Bartošek to return the retained five billion crowns to the defense budget by the end of March. If this does not happen, according to the Defense Committee, the Government is „threatening the country's defense capabilities“.

Tags of article

This website uses to provide services, personalize ads, and analyzing visitor cookies. By using this site you agree.More information