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Czech Republic: Klaus Says Bankers Not Paying For Transformation Costs

Washington, 30 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Commercial banks are among those in the country who are trying to "avoid paying their share of transformation costs," says Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus.

He spoke yesterday in Washington to a meeting of the International Institute of Finance (IIF), a global group of bankers, investment and insurance companies, including several from the Czech Republic. Klaus said that in the beginning of the transformation, no one even thought about the costs.

"We thought it was free," he said.

But as it has become obvious over the years that the transformation brought tremendous costs, Klaus said "more and more groups in society succeeded in avoiding to pay their share."

He then turned to a table of Czech bankers and added: "I look at our bankers, who are trying to avoid paying."

Klaus did not specify exactly how this was happening, but noted that Czech society "now sees growing disparities in income and property (and) not everyone is on the winning side," thus leading to a popular discontent which has erased most of the popular support for the reform process.

He remains optimistic that growth will average five percent per year for the time ahead, but that getting inflation below eight to ten percent per year is much harder than anyone expected.

Klaus concludes a several day visit to Washington today with a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher.