Czech President’s Office to Expand Despite Cost-Cutting Measures

Michal Šula

The Office of the President of the Czech Republic is set to expand, with nine new positions being added from June 1. According to Jana Vohralikova, head of the presidential office, these additional hires are directly related to President Petr Pavel’s functional units that have been significantly curtailed in recent years. Although Vohralikova emphasized that the presidential office does not want to allocate additional funding for these new hires, this expansion comes when the government looks for ways to save at least CZK 70 billion.

The Czech government currently seeks to reduce public spending, focusing on public officials. President Pavel himself has encouraged cost-cutting measures to be taken, with an emphasis on reducing spending. However, Vohralikova quickly pointed out that the presidential office is not asking for additional funding for the new positions but needs to fill 21. Personnel transfers will fill twelve positions, and only nine new jobs will be created.

Although the president has called for cost-cutting measures, the focus has been primarily on increasing revenues rather than reducing spending. Pavel has stated that the state’s administration and government are expensive and that cost-cutting measures should begin on the spending side. Pavel added that the presidential office is part of the state administration and will follow the same principles agreed upon for public officials.

Vohralikova also mentioned other personnel changes, including the appointment of a new director of the Prague Castle administration, Vladimir Sonntag, and Zdenek Hejhal to lead the personnel department. Pavel Vyhnánek, previously reported on by Seznam Zprávy, will serve as the financial director. Additionally, Veronika Wolf will be the new program director, and Lukas Gajarsky will join the presidential office as a new addition.

However, the reorganization will not affect the Lany Forest Administration as it has a different accounting and personnel system incompatible with the Office of the President. Vohralikova said that this issue would be resolved in due course, and the presidential office would wait for all police investigations and audits to conclude before proceeding with the reorganization.

The expansion of the Office of the President has raised concerns among citizens, particularly in light of the Czech government’s cost-cutting measures. Critics argue that the government should focus on reducing public spending rather than expanding the presidential office, which may lead to higher costs for taxpayers. Others say that the presidential office plays an essential role in the country’s governance, and the expansion is necessary to carry out its functions effectively.

The expansion of the Office of the President also comes at a time when the country is facing significant political turmoil, with Prime Minister Andrej Babis facing allegations of corruption. Babis has been pressured to resign, and many have called for early elections. In this context, the expansion of the presidential office may be seen as a move to consolidate power by the president, particularly if the government is weakened or dissolved.