Parliament has approved landmark legislation to end 40 years of state control over the economy with a vote to hand over all nationalized industry to private investors.
The law, adopted Tuesday, is the most important in the government's ambitious program to turn the country from the old communist-controlled economy to a market-oriented system."It is an all-out attempt to get rid of . . . state ownership of industry and the only way to solve this enormous problem," Deputy Finance Minister Dusan Triska, architect of the legislation, said in an interview Tuesday.
All 4,500 industrial enterprises valued at $130 billion should be available to domestic or foreign private investors by year's end, he said.
Deputies present in the 300-seat legislature voted 157 in favor, 24 against, and 12 abstained, the official news agency CTK said.
Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus, chief architect of economic reform, called the draft law an "historic document" when he presented it to parliament on Thursday.
Czechoslovakia was among Europe's most advanced industrial countries before World War II, with military, textile and engineering industries respected worldwide.
Four decades of communist rule after 1948 brought its economy to the verge of collapse, leaving the nation's first post-communist government last year with outdated heavy industry and a polluted environment.
The country's economic reform shifted into high gear last month, with price deregulation and auctions of small shops that gave the population the first taste of postwar capitalism.