Thursday, 21 March 2019

PM: Passing of 2016 budget shows viability of Czech gov't coalition

ČTK |
10 December 2015

Prague, Dec 9 (CTK) - The Czech 2016 state budget bill was passed by the Chamber of Deputies yesterday in the shape on which the government coalition parties´ leaders agreed on Monday, which proves that the coalition is capable of action, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists.
Dominated by deputies for the centre-left government of the CSSD, ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), the Chamber passed yesterday additional transfers of money between particular budget chapters yesterday in accordance with the above agreement of the coalition leaders.
A number of further proposals were rejected, including ones that government deputies proposed beyond the agreement, such as an increase in the Defence Ministry´s budget.
Finance Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babis later admitted that the Defence Ministry may see an extra increase in its budget later, if need be.
The budget has been completed in a way that prevents it from "strangling" the economy, Babis said.
"The vote´s result is just what we previously agreed on," Sobotka said after the budget bill sailed through the Chamber of Deputies, unanimously supported by all government deputies present.
All opposition deputies present, except two, voted against the bill.
Sobotka said the coalition showed its capability of pushing through bills.
"I am convinced that the budget will enhance the economic growth and employment," Sobotka said.
He said the budget includes a planned increase in the pay of civil servants and health care workers, and the co-financing of EU-subsidised projects.
It also sufficiently enhances the security sector, Sobotka said.
According to KDU-CSL deputy Ivan Gabal, the planned spending on defence is insufficient because its proportion is lower than what Prague pledged to spend within its commitments to NATO.
Gabal´s proposal that the lawmakers raise the budget´s defence chapter by 2.28 billion crowns designed for modernisation of equipment, was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies.
In the debate preceding the final vote, the opposition criticised the budget for including revenues based on the law on the compulsory electronic registration of sales, though the relevant bill has not been passed yet.
Sobotka said the objection amounts to hypocrisy. "It is the opposition that has been blocking the [above] bill for several months now," Sobotka said.
He said the government coalition is ready to push the bill through on Friday, when an extraordinary lower house session will meet to discuss it.
"There are no doubts about our having enough votes," Sobotka added.
The right-wing opposition TOP 09 and Civic Democrats (ODS) say they will continue blocking the bill on the electronic registration of sales by filibustering in parliament. The order of procedure, which allows for bills to be discussed in final reading only on Wednesday and Fridays, plays into the opposition´s hands.
($1=24.841 crowns)

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