Press Advisories

31. 5. 2010 15:13

Speech to Members of Parliament by Prime Minister Jan Fischer

It has been a difficult thirteen months during a difficult period! A speech by the Prime Minister at the final meeting of the lower house of the Czech Parliament.

Dear Chairwoman, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The main reason I requested the opportunity of appearing at today’s meeting of the Parliament was to take my leave of you in the name of the Government as well as in my own name and to thank you for your cooperation over the previous year and a bit.

It has been a difficult thirteen months during a difficult period. When I accepted the post of Prime Minister over a year ago, I know that the task I then took on would not be an easy one. I have to admit that the reality was even more complicated than I had originally anticipated, mainly due to the cancellation of the pre-term elections and the subsequent extension of my Government’s mandate. According to the original plan, the Government was only established for five months and it was only to be a bridging and maintaining Government. Once the pre-term elections had been cancelled, it was clear that this plan was not sustainable and the Government was obliged to act or to propose decisions that were political or that relied on relevant changes to the legislation.

Many of you were certainly unhappy or dissatisfied with one or other of the decisions taken by the Government. Over recent months certain of you have even claimed that the Government has overstepped its mandate, or even that it is just sitting on its hands doing nothing. Now and again the Government has been criticised for being populist, but none of this is true. Both the Government and myself personally have only tried to perform the task you assigned us when the Government was formed, that it should be an apolitical, professional Government proposing or taking what are basically technocratic decisions which will gather the widest possible support across the political spectrum. And I dare to claim that we have been relatively successful in achieving this.

I am not saying that the Government I led made no mistakes. We certainly did make a number of mistakes and not everything we took on were we able to resolve and complete. I could also make a list of things I would rather we had done differently and better. However I will leave this task to the media and to the commentators. Instead I will focus here on the more positive aspects.

We were able to complete our Presidency of the European Union in a dignified and professional manner and also completed the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. We managed to prepare and approve a budget with a deficit of 5.3% of GDP and to maintain at least elementary control over the public finances. The economy has gradually begun to recover from the global economic recession. The drawdown from European funds, which I myself had long criticised for its slow tempo, has improved. We have been able to adopt certain measures in the fight against corruption – although I should point out that these are small steps on a long journey, which, I hope, will contribute to curing what is probably the worst disease affecting our society.

Finally, our efforts to combat a growing level of extremism have proved effective. And, possibly most importantly, we have been able to manage all the ministries in a calm and practical manner, in other words, to ensure the smooth running of the state with an absence of scandals and major political turbulence.

The Government has also carried out its resolution to prepare certain strategic documents that must be adopted by a political representation with support from voters for the new, fully political Government. The first of these is a budget for the coming year. The Government has prepared various options at a professional level that comply with the convergence programme and contain a plan to reduce the deficit to 4.8% of gross domestic product next year. We want to provide the next Government, whether left-wing or right-wing, with sufficient expert materials to allow it to submit a draft budget that corresponds to its political preferences to the new Parliament in good time.

The second important document the Government has drafted, or at least prepared for a final decision, is an updated energy programme for the country. We are also leaving the new Government the conclusions of what is referred to as the Bezděk Commission regarding the pension reform plan, as well as a strategy for funding the transport infrastructure and a range of other ministerial materials and legislation. The Government is therefore leaving a great deal of material, in the form of analytical or expert documentation, for the Government that will be formed after the next elections.

I should also like to mention one thing apart from these standard executive documents we have prepared and, if you will allow me, to give some of my own views. You can take this as the experience of someone who has spent a year in the role of Prime Minister and possibly the experience of someone who has spent twenty years working deep in the bowels of the Czech public administration.

I would like to talk about the quality of our public administration or, if you will, the quality of our state bureaucracy. Having spent a year as the head of the executive, I am convinced that unless our future political representatives devote themselves to the issue of the quality of the Czech state administration and unless they carry out certain reforms, the situation in our country will not improve. More specifically, we are in urgent need of a new and truly modern Public Service Act, we need a new system to motivate civil servants and we need a new system that rewards them according to their performance. Unless these changes, and possibly others, are adopted, we will not have a high quality and efficient state administration and without this we will not be able to fulfil any reform plans. This is because there will be no one to work on them.

Therefore if I may, during this, my last, appearance on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies, appeal to you as caretaker Prime Minister, it is to invoke this matter, this topic. In addition to issues relating to public finances, the next Government will certainly wish to address the quality of the state administration and I assume that it will introduce true reforms in this area. Although this issue is not particularly attractive one, it is just as important for the future of this country as questions on the budget or the efficiency of the Czech economy.

Members of Parliament, since the time of the first Republic, our country has had a relatively good and long experience of caretaker Governments. I believe and hope that the Government I led, although it was more a semi-political and expert Government rather than a purely caretaker Government, has continued in this tradition and that it will be remembered favourably in future.

The public administration I am handing over to my successor in the Straková akademie is certainly in no worse a state than when I myself accepted it.

In conclusion, I should like to thank the members of my Government for the work they have performed. I should like to thank you, members of the Czech Parliament for what has on occasion certainly been a difficult cooperation, as is normal in life and politics, but which has been a rational working relationship and I am appreciative of this.

I should also like to thank the President of the Republic and, in particular, I wish to thank the citizens of this state, the Czech public, for the patience and support they have shown this Government during the entire period of its existence.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of Parliament, thank you for your attention.

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