The fiscal year 2019 ended with a 28.5 billion crown deficit, Finance
Minister Alena Schillerová told reporters at a press briefing in Prague on
Friday. The 2019 state budget was projected with a 40 billion crown
deficit. Although it was narrowed by 11.5 billion, the deficit is still the
highest since 2015.
Opposition parties have criticized the result, arguing that there is no justification for a deficit budget at a time of solid economic growth. They moreover criticize the fact that large sums are spent on the social sphere rather than on investments.
The 2018 budget ended on a surplus of 2.9 billion, despite the projected 50 billion crown deficit.
Pensioners in the Czech Republic will see an increase in their monthly
old-age pensions by 6.7 percent on average, which amounts to around 900
crowns, as of January 2020.
The hike is higher by about 200 crowns than the increase that the pension law would normally allow, based on salary growth and inflation. It is the second hike in succession as the government strives to bring pensions faster to a higher level.
The Social Democrats of the ruling coalition, who hold the Labour and Social Affairs portfolio, say they want pensions to reach 50% of the average wage by the end of the government’s term in 2021.
A European Commission audit has found Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to be in a conflict of interest over EU subsidies paid to the Agrofert holding he founded and placed in a trust fund two years ago, the weekly magazine Respekt reported on Sunday. The European Commission has told Czech Radio this is the final version of the audit first leaked in preliminary form earlier this year. However, Mr. Babis and his regional development minister insist it is not.
There are around 230,830 homeless people living in the Czech Republic,
according to a census carried out in the spring by the research Institute
for Labour and Social Affairs and published on Thursday.
The majority of the homeless are men and about 2,600 people of the total number are people under the age of 18, the report says.
Most of the homeless concentrate in large cities and towns. About 3,250 of them live in the Czech capital.
The lower house of Parliament is expected to approve a government tax
package at its session starting on Tuesday. It includes a proposal to raise
taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, and an increase in parental
The basic parental allowance could rise from 80,000 crowns to 300,000 crowns. MPs are also due to start discuss the draft state budget for 2020, which counts on a 40 billion crown deficit.
In the initial round, MPs will approve the budget’s basic parameters, i.e. revenue, expenditure and deficit. MPs have tabled dozens of amendments to the tax package, only some of which the Committee on Budgets has supported thus far.
On Friday, Prime Minister Andrei Babiš (ANO) and Communist party leader Vojtěch Filip agreed to allocate an additional 4.9 billion crowns for the health sector. Originally, 334 billion crowns was earmarked for the sector.
The lower house of Parliament will debate a Senate proposal to file a
constitutional complaint against President Miloš Zeman on September 26,
without any specific recommendation from the chamber’s Committee for
Legal Matters, the ctk news agency reported. The committee’s only
recommendation is that the debate should be public.
The proposal was approved by the Senate in July. If it is passed by the lower house, it will reach the Constitutional Court.
However, this is unlikely, due to the ruling ANO-Social Democrat coalition, supported by the Communist Party, holding a majority in the Chamber of Deputies.
The complaint is based on the president’s recent procrastination tactics in sacking and naming a new culture minister and his frequent unwillingness to adhere to the government’s set foreign policy line.
President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday appointed Lubomír Zaorálek to the post of culture minister, ending a drawn-out dispute over who should manage the arts portfolio. The seasoned Social Democrat, who has previously served as the country’s foreign minister, stressed the need to recognize the huge potential of the arts sphere and said he was not afraid to cross swords with the president in fulfilling his goals.
Individual ministries negotiated an overall increase in expenditures of
around 17.5 billion crowns in 2020 above the expenditures projected in the
June draft budget, Finance Minister Alena Schillerova told journalists
following a week of one-one-one meetings with cabinet minister.
Another 492 million is expected to be earmarked for digitization and IT projects.
Despite the increase in expenditures the budget deficit should not exceed 40 billion crowns.
According to the finance minister, higher spending will be made possible by the new macroeconomic forecast and savings in state debt payments.
Social Democratic Party leader Jan Hamáček has received full backing from
the party’s deputies’ group in the lower house over the manner in which
he handled the crisis surrounding the naming of a new culture minister.
Mr. Hamáček said after Friday’s meeting of the group that he was confident he still enjoyed strong backing from the party leadership and there would be no attempts to undermine party unity.
The Social Democrat leader recently came under fire from some regional party members who said he should have been more emphatic in defending the party’s position in talks with the prime minister and president and even made good on his threat to walk out of the coalition government.
Faced by an acute labour shortage, the Czech government is looking to attract more foreign workers and streamline the processing of issuing work permits. In recent years, the country has in particular turned to Ukraine to help fill the gap. The government wants to do the same for workers from EU hopefuls such as Montenegro, Moldova and Serbia, as well as India and other Asian countries.