Press Conferences

24. 11. 2008 11:49

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Government, Held on Monday 24th November 2008

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. I welcome members of the government, the Prime Minister Mr. Mirek Topolánek, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment, Mr. Martin Bursík, and the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ivan Langer. Mirek Topolánek,

Prime Minister: Good afternoon. The fact that the meeting of the government has already finished implies that there were no explosive issues on the agenda today. I brought two ministers with me, the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Bursík to inform you of the procedure of sale of so called Kyoto emission permits, which is a very interesting matter. It enables funding of our priorities in the sphere of energy. I brought Mr. Minister Langer because of two items which had been debated; first one concerned biometric data public documents, the second one concerned marked economies in ordering software for the public administration and legalization of that software. I have nothing to add now. Those items that were debated were rather standard ones - some government orders and three audit conclusions of the NKÚ (Supreme Audit Office) that concerned the sphere of education, local development and the Česká pošta (Czech Post). We debated the European issues, I mean the European plan for reconstruction. That is all as far as today's meeting of the government is concerned. I ask my colleagues to give you information.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister and I give the floor to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Martin Bursík.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: Thank you, good afternoon. I submitted a material to the government today which summarized in detail preparedness of the Ministry of Environment for sale of surplus of special emission permits. They are different emission permits from those which are related to the climate-energy package. Our commitment resulting from the Kyoto Protocol was to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012 by 8%. We exceed this target nearly by 25%. We have surplus of emission permits that we can sell to states, which do not meet their commitments, or to private subjects. We expected to keep certain reserve which would correspond to the state of our economy. We calculated that we were able to sell about 100 million of those units that are marked AAU. We are holding number of bilateral negotiations with countries that need those units for keeping their commitments. The most important matter of those negotiations with potential buyers is that, in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, revenues resulting from sale of surpluses will have to be used for further reduction of greenhouse gases, for so called motivations. That greening project, which guarantees reduction of CO2 emissions, is just the key to the success. A state which wants to sell must prepare special programme, a special account and it must guarantee to the buyer that revenues will be used for further reduction of greenhouse gases emissions. We have such a programme prepared; it will be very attractive and will be aimed at the housing sphere, at heat insulation of houses and at usage of renewable energy resources. These resources will be used not only as a substitute of coal; we will also support the passive housing. The programme is nearly prepared and it will be similar to the Austrian model. Investments of the individual investors will score points according to the used technology. We have calculated potential figures in the individual areas and our internal target I informed the government of our intention to realize the first sale by February; the sale would be absolutely transparent. At present we are registering offers of the individual states and private subjects and the key negotiations will be held next week in Poznan at the climatic conference. We will have the first portion sold in February. Apart from that we will call an international auction which will give us information on the market price. The auctions will be aimed in particular at private subjects and bilateral negotiations with the individual governments. It is an extraordinary opportunity which must not be missed as there are Russia and Ukraine behind the door and these states have far more units available; their surplus is much higher. On the other hand, their preparedness and guarantees to use revenues for further greenhouse gas reduction is very low. It is called "super hot air" in Russia and Ukraine and there are no guarantees of further revenue usage. I informed the government on the situation and the government noted the material. Works will now quickly continue so that permits would be sold in the most advantageous way and so that we could use revenues for marked improvement of environment in the Czech Republic. Thank you.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Deputy Prime Minister and now the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ivan Langer has the floor.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: Good afternoon. The government debated at today's meeting several items that had been submitted by the Minister of Interior. One of the important items was the Bill on Certification of Public Documents with Biometric Data and on Amendment to Certain other Acts. Under this complicated title is hidden the target to enhance security of documents which use citizens of the Czech Republic in connection with the transition to the issue of documents with biometric data. Our target is to set rules for the issue and usage of certificates of public documents; they are certificates which contain data files with biometric data through which it is possible to better verify authenticity of papers, whether I mean passports or other documents and to check justice of the access to biometric data. The objective of the bill is to legislatively support better prevention of falsification of public documents and to increase effectiveness of checking those papers so that we would be able to effectively distinguish authentic papers from the counterfeit ones. This bill responds to the Council and Commission Regulation which stipulates duty of the individual states to establish national certification authorities. According to this bill it will be the Ministry of Interior which will become such an authority. Thus we get on to the non-existence of a decision on the European level on what should be the biometric data. As we must issue documents with such elements, the government proposed the Chamber of Deputies to approve this bill in the first reading and what is very important and what will have impact on our citizens is that they will be fingerprints which will be further biometric elements. The Czech Republic tries to satisfy citizens and to minimize the burden resulting from it in particular as far as children are concerned. As we are still waiting for the decision on the European level regarding age of children to which a duty to have documents with biometric data will be applied; we are trying to choose the most conformal way. Despite existence of certain proposals for setting such a limit to three years of age, we set the limit to six years of age. Unfortunately it is a price we have to pay for common approach of the European Union; nevertheless, the positive news is that thanks to that it will be better control over verification of documents. That was the first item. The second item concerns the purchase of software for bodies of the public administration. The government charged the Ministry of Interior with a task in March to conclude a contract on strategic cooperation with the company Microsoft. The contract was concluded. I just add that this strategic contract does not have a character of an exclusive contract. It means that it does not give right of exclusive usage in the public administration to the company. Consequently, the Ministry of Interior concluded a contract with a competitor of Microsoft – which was company Novell and it concerned its product Linux. Nevertheless steps were started the objective of which was: first, to legalize software used in the public administration. It may be surprising information for some people but there are certain doubts concerning legality of the software that was used by the Czech state. The second step concerned standardization of software products in the public administration and third one concerned maximal economies. I am convinced that we succeeded in reaching optimal results after that more than one-year work. That is why the material was debated by the government today. After tough negotiations on prices during tender we reached an offer that concerned delivery of software products for public administration with price reduction of 15%. It means by 5% higher reduction than we had originally expected. It means in practice that the government assigned the individual ministers with a task to take results of this tender into consideration. It will mean economies in the following six years at the amount of 500 million crowns at least. The maximal economies are estimated to 4 billion crowns. The reason is that great number of subjects bought their software in different ways. Standardization of software was not respected and thus higher costs took place. The project on which we have been working recently is similar to the project of centralized implementation of the communication infrastructure of the public administration; in this case economies amounted to 250 million crowns were reached during two years. I am saying this because the government, as one of its many priorities, has a maximal affectivity in spending financial means of our tax payers. The economies amounted to 250 million crowns in case of communication infrastructure and up to 4 billion crowns in case of software for public administration are just examples of such an effort of the government. I regard it as good news for tax payers and a great challenge for the entire public administration as it is the way which is rather painful and demanding, but which may lead to great effects.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson
: I thank the Minister of Interior and all members of the government. Now I ask for your questions. The Czech TV. Czech TV: Good afternoon. I have a question to Minister Ivan Langer. You were also to debate the assistance of customs officers who should support policemen during the EU presidency. What competences would they have if you decided so? How many of them would be used and did you consider any other group for the support of policemen?

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior
: Today's decision of the government has connection with its decisions of last weeks when 400 soldiers of the Czech Army were called to assist the Police of the Czech Republic during the presidency. The government decided today to use 60 members of the Customs Administration. I cannot specify their activities at the moment but I regard it as a very important contribution. It concerns 60 members of the Customs Administration for a limited time, for 6 months of our EU presidency.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question. The Czech TV once more.
Czech TV: I have one more question that concerns the Palace of Justice in Brno. You were to debate it as well. How the incremental costs will be funded? Which variant did you choose? What will be the future of the Palace of Justice?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: The construction of the Palace of Justice in Brno was started after a faulty decision which had not made by my government but it had been made some three years ago. The construction was started which was lately called Temelín (nuclear power station) of justice. Everything what was possible to breach was breached. The original costs were 700 million crowns and they grew up to 1,6 billion crowns. The fact that now we must pay for excess hours and that excess hours that are problematic occurred, is a result of activities or rather lack of activities of great number of people and it was not the objective of the government to decide on the extent of fault of the individual persons as those proceedings are running independently and possible accusation can be made by the relevant bodies The government decided today whether to choose bad variant or even worse variant. It decided to choose better variant, variant A – to accept those excess hours that are beyond doubt and to negotiate on problematic ones. This government did not make faulty decision, but it was responsible for damage minimizing and cost minimizing from the point of view of the state. The decision of the government was correct in this respect.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the TV Nova.

TV Nova: I have a question to the Prime Minister. An extraordinary session of the Chamber of Deputies is to be held tomorrow. Did you debate at the meeting of the government a possibility of non-approval of the programme of that session? Would it mean the end of this government? Will those rebels around Vlastimil Tlustý support you? Do you negotiate with them? What will happen in case the programme is not approved?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister
: I cannot imagine that the programme of tomorrow's session will not be approved. It would be rather anomalous and we would have to summon another extraordinary session. In this respect it does not concern the attitude of the government but the attitude of the Chamber of Deputies. I would strictly distinguish these bodies. The government will submit great number of bills at those several sessions which will follow, great number of materials without which this country cannot function. It is a responsibility of the Chamber of Deputies. The government did not debate it as it cannot decide on that matter.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the Czech TV.

Czech TV: I would like to ask Minister Langer for additional information. Can you say whether you are going to call any other groups to assist policemen? And can Mr. Martin Bursík give information on the estimated revenues resulting from those surpluses?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I forbade him to speak about it.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior:
I can add that we do not expect any reinforcement.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: I asked the Prime Minister to forbid me to speak about it. The problem is that these trades are only starting and they require number of negotiations with governments and other subjects. There will be opportunities to finalize some of those negotiations just at the climatic conference in Poznan and our objective is to maximize our revenues. What our ministry can do is to prepare programmes in the most precise way, to guarantee our partners the most advantageous greening, and to use those revenues for further reduction of greenhouse gases. All this is prepared. The starting position is very good after those negotiations and we agreed I would inform the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance and only then the final common decision would be made.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I suppose you know the reason why it is not possible to disclose any information. We did not inform you in case of the sale of shares of the company ČEZ and the sale was super-advantageous for the state. With regard to the fact that countries which offer free quota of those permit compete with those which need them, it requires certain time and it is not possible to set the price exactly. It is self-evident that we will not disclose any estimate.
Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: I can inform you on the other side of the issue. We have analyses made that we are able to safe 56% energy costs in case of detached houses. In case of block of flats it is 63%. A programme will be implemented which concerns exchange of coal cauldrons for environmentally friendlier alternatives; it concerns 280000 detached houses and 144000 block of flats. We expect that about 1000-2000 installations of heat pumps, and we will support construction of new houses in a passive energy standard. There are 33000 houses that are constructed in our country every year and if we compare this with Austria – there is 10% of newly constructed houses built in that passive standard. It is important for us to construct houses in such a way too, in the Czech Republic. It is advantageous for environment, for climate, investors, and users as energy costs are reduced. It is a multiple win-win strategy, and if we are able to mobilize external funds through sale of those surpluses, then it would be the most advantageous financial injection which will be aimed at investments to the most advanced technologies that are available.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, the Z1 TV.

Z1 TV: Good afternoon, I would like to ask Minister Ivan Langer a question of rather a technical character which concerns those biometric data. Does it mean that children over six years of age will have their own passports with fingerprints? Will not they be registered on passports of their parents?

 Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: We expect children to have their own passports; however, it is necessary to reach a balance between that administrative burden and security as the objective of this measure is to ensure better control over falsification of travel documents, better identification and control of children; it is one of instruments of the fight against the trade with children. Life is always rather complicated; it is always quid pro quo. If you want to fight against something, then there is not other chance than to accept adequate degree or regulation and administrative burden which result from it.

Z1 TV: ... inarticulate ...

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: The Czech Republic must issue travel documents with this standard starting from 1st April of the following year. All new travel documents, which will be issued, must meet these security parameters.

Z1 TV: How often will children need new passports? It will not be the same time period as in case of adults, I suppose.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: No. The term of validity of these documents will be the same. You know that we were fighting against measures of the previous cabinet which concerned those small children and against duty to issue travel documents to the youngest children, and what is more, with biometric photographs. There were a lot of problems with this. That is why we raised the age limit and we also enabled registration of children in travel documents of their parents. This is a rule which is used in the EU and we must to respects it. We try to meet requirements of people. Duty to issue such travel documents will be starting from 1st April of the following year. Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you the Czech News Agency.

Czech News Agency
: I apologize, but my question is to the Minister of Interior, too. Could you say what will those sixty customs officers do during that half a year? Thank you.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: Try to ask the Director of the Customs Authority and the Police President. Sometimes I feel like bringing all of you to a two-week visit or a study trip to the Ministry of Interior, so that you could get knowledge on tasks of the Minister of Interior at that ministry with one hundred thousand employees, what he must organize and manage and so that you could get knowledge on duties, competences, and responsibilities of other people which are paid for it.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: Ivan Langer had to say that he did not know it and I excuse him for doing that.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the Czech TV.

Czech TV: I have a question to the Prime Minister Mire Topolánek. I would like to ask about the congress of the ODS (Civic Democratic Party) which will be held on the weekend. Do you know whether he will be present? Has Václav Klaus confirmed his attendance?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I think that the correct answer is that the congress of the ODS will really be held on this weekend in Prague. This is perhaps the maximum I am willing to say about it as I think it is an exclusively partial matter. I myself signed invitations not only for Václav Klaus but also for Mrs. Lívie Klausová and I have not received any answer yet. It does not mean that it cannot be at the secretariat; I simply do not know it. Taking what is going on into consideration, I suppose that the decision will be made at the last moment; nevertheless, the President was invited as it has been standard for many years.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Do you have any further question concerning the government meeting agenda? Thank you, good-bye.

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