Deputies approved in the third reading an amendment to the Building Act to ensure a one-year postponement of specific passages. The process was accompanied by many hours of discussion and strong criticism from the opposition. The amendment will now go to the Senate and then to the President for signature.
The amendment passed with the votes of the government MPs, who have a majority in the lower house of parliament. Specifically, 86 MPs out of 152 present raised their hands in favor. ANO and SPD legislators were against it.
“This draft law aims to postpone the implementation of the system of state construction administration to avoid the de facto creation of the Supreme Construction Authority and state regional construction authorities,” commented Regional Development Minister Ivan Bartoš (Pirates) on the draft in the previous readings.
The government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) wants the amendment to postpone the creation of regional construction offices established under the Supreme Construction Office by one year, until June 2024, when the current construction offices operate in towns and municipalities are to be transferred.
The amendment does not change the start of the Specialised and Appellate Construction Authority, which will be in charge of reserved buildings.
According to the plan, it will start functioning in mid-2023. It will deal with large investment projects such as motorways, railways, dams, or gas storage facilities.
The draft was criticized for many hours throughout the process by the opposition, especially the ANO movement led by former Regional Development Minister Klára Dostálová. She drafted and pushed through the original law in the last parliamentary term, which the cabinet is now trying to change.
She stands by the norm and has repeatedly reminded Bartos that the law recently won the title of “law of the year” in a poll conducted by Deloitte Legal under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce.
“We all need a new construction law to deal with the crisis and start drawing down a huge package of money efficiently. We have managed to negotiate one trillion crowns,” Dostálová appealed to MPs, adding that approving the delay in the effective date would jeopardize the drawdown of the money.
“What the House will agree is probably the worst possible solution. Leaving something and postponing something will confuse and make it unclear who is responsible for it. On Friday,” Karel Havlíček, a deputy chairman of the ANO movement, said it is a travesty.
Radim Fiala, chairman of the SPD parliamentary club, also criticized the government’s proposal, saying it means uncertainty and chaos in the state administration and disrespect for the law.
The amendment will now head to the Senate for discussion and, if approved, to President Miloš Zeman for signature.