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Minister Jana Černochová (ODS) is no longer convinced that hundreds of officials of the Department of Defense will move to a private “skyscraper” in Prague’s Holešovice.
She also changed her position that the rent of 66 million per year is the most advantageous.
Last month, Nauzal wrote that the Ministry of Defense plans to move 800 employees to the Tokovo high-rise building near the Libeňský most due to the reconstruction of its own administrative complex, which the Supreme Audit Office (NAO) is leaving after the completion of its own headquarters.
And it was the president of the SAO, Miloslav Kala, who wondered why the defense wanted to pay three times more for rent to the owner of the building, billionaire Radovan Vítek’s CPI Property Group: in total, it would be over half a billion over seven years.
Minister Černochová, who nevertheless defended the move to the offices after the inspectors, now speaks differently. Nauzal obtained her answer to the interpellation of MP Petra Quittová from STAN, who was interested in the details of the lease.
Jana Černochová, in response to a colleague from the coalition, writes that “thanks to the media” the ministry received new offers from private building owners.
“In an effort to find the best solution, I have therefore decided to ask for office space in state buildings again and, in case of a negative result, to conduct a new inquiry process for renting office space,” wrote Černochová in a letter dated Monday, October 16.
When asked if the offers received after the “media coverage” were more interesting than those from CPI Property Group, ministry spokesman Jiří Táborský said that information about the lease will be heard at Thursday’s meeting of the parliamentary defense committee. Until then, the Ministry of Defense will not announce anything.
According to MP Quittová, it is clear from the answer to the interpellation that the ministry has begun to intensively solve the problem. “It looks like the ministry will face this and find a more economical solution,” Quittová pointed out.
The office keeps the offers confidential
Minister Černochová – dissatisfied with the criticism of the move to the headquarters of the SAO – has so far repeated that the Tokovo building on the Vltava embankment is ideal under the given conditions.
According to Černochová, the ministry first approached the Office for Representation of the State in Property Matters – this organization registers free spaces belonging to the state. It was only when it became clear that there was no suitable building for such a large number of officials, which also met security requirements, among other things, that the ministry approached real estate agencies.
However, there is one problem here as well: although the ministry defended the agreed rent at the SAO headquarters, it did not want to publish, at the request of Seznam Zpráv, how the other offers from the mentioned survey among real estate agents sounded. So it is not possible to verify the ministry’s claim.
Opposition member Pavel Růžička (ANO) now wants to hear this information from the defense minister at Thursday’s meeting of the parliamentary defense committee. “I will definitely ask the minister about it. If Tokovo was supposed to be the most advantageous solution, then let the ministry show what it chose from,” declared Růžička.
Rent now, repair only from 2028
How did the relocation case even begin: in July of this year, Minister Černochová brought a written report to the government meeting that the total reconstruction of the block of office buildings in Československá Armády Street was planned for five billion.
The so-called complex “A” was created 100 years ago and has not undergone major repairs since then.
In the document, the ministry also described that it would move officials to the Tokovo building for seven years, which turned out to be the optimal option. It also calculated the rental price: 66.3 million per year. With the fact that the transfer of officials will begin next year.
Because of this, the already mentioned president of the SAO Kala, whose office will soon move from this building to the newly built headquarters, spoke up. Inspectors in Tokov have been paid (according to statistics on the office’s website) between 18 and 20 million per year in the last 10 years. The defense counted on three times the amount.
It is true that the SAO occupied approximately nine thousand meters, the defense is interested in 12.5 thousand meters. Even so, this increase seemed strange to President Kal and he demanded an official justification from the defense – which, however, did not satisfy him.
“I think it raises questions and it would certainly be good for the Ministry of Defense to look at it. How the negotiations went and how they arrived at this price,” Kala said.
The official left “by mutual agreement”
Two weeks after the publication of articles about the disputed lease of the Tokovo building, Michal Šrámek, head of the Real Estate Management Agency, unexpectedly left the Ministry of Defense this week. It was this agency that was in charge of moving 800 officials to the glass administrative building in Holešovice. The reasons for Šrámek’s departure remained unclear, according to Novinek.cz, the ministry limited itself to stating that it was a “mutual agreement”.
When Seznam Správy wrote about the doubts surrounding the price, Minister Černochová responded that the agreement with CPI Property Group has not yet been concluded and negotiations are ongoing. However, there was no mention of this in the information for the government.
Jana Černochová explained it by saying that she tried to be open with her colleagues from the government. “And that’s why we informed them about this plan, but that does not mean that we have agreed on the lease,” said the minister.
In addition, Seznam News found out that the Ministry of Defense wanted to pay the rent in the Tokovo building from next year, even though it has no plans to reconstruct the dilapidated office complex at all. The competition for the project has not yet taken place, so the construction company has not been selected. Under ideal conditions, the repair should not begin until 2028.
Even the chairman of the SAO Kal found this very strange: whether the defense will spend tens of millions on rent unnecessarily – when the reconstruction will start in four years anyway.
According to the ministry, it is necessary to move the officials out of the current offices as early as next year in order to prepare for the construction. For example, according to the department, it is necessary to carry out probes that will show the construction of the complex of buildings. And these drillings must be done in empty spaces. Not in offices with clerks.