Press Conferences

19. 11. 2008 12:11

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Government, Held on Wednesday 19th 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 Labour and Social Affairs, Mr. Petr Nečas, the Minister of Health, Mr. Tomáš Julínek, and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Miroslav Kalousek. I ask the Prime Minister for his introductory speech.

 Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: The fact that the meeting of the government was longer than it had been expected was expected indicates that it was relatively very complicated. As an introduction I should say that I left the meeting very content. I can state that with the exception of the Bill amending the Act no. 48/1997 on Public Health Insurance, in which team of experts is to specify the article no. 8, we unanimously approved all the laws relating to the health sphere. I think it is news which is the most interesting; nevertheless, we debated range of relatively important items. More detailed information will be given by Tomáš Julínek. Miroslav Kalousek will present the Draft Tax Code and the Bill amending the Act on Business Activities on the Security Market. I think that a very interesting discussion was held on the Bill amending the Act on Protection of Confidential Information which connected with it, and through which the procedure was markedly shortened and number of data was reduced as well as time necessary for verifying information. As to other items, I would mention our approval to the proposal of deputies for declaring 30th June 1991 as an important day. You will certainly ask questions about it and therefore I can announce that following the decision of the government 30th June 1991 will be declared as an important day if it is approved by the Chamber of Deputies. A very important matter was approved which had been submitted by Petr Nečas; Petr Nečas will make a presentation and as you can see the introductory slide of the pro-family package is being projected. After suspension we approved the Draft of the State Cultural Policy in the wording submitted by the Minister of Culture. The State Programme to Promote Energy Savings was approved as well. Then we approved the Draft Government Resolution to Security Provision of the Czech Republic's Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which was very important for the security plan implementation. We also approved the programme for optimisation of operation of premises owned by the Czech Republic under the competence of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Minister Říman will be holding a press conference on this issue tomorrow, and so your questions on it will be answered there. We approved the procedure, which means that works on the pilot project continue and the government intends to continue this project. We approved the privatization of state testing institutes; I mean those 6 institutes out of 36 which remained in the possession of the state. We also approved the proposal for extraordinary acquisition of the National Library connected with the offer of the Pilsner Bishopric for sale of the collection of the Franciscan monastic library in the town of Cheb. It was very interesting as there were threats of transfer of this national cultural heritage out of the Czech Republic. It is perhaps all as an introduction from my side. The negotiations were very complicated; nevertheless, we reached certain agreement which should guarantee all votes of the coalition for laws of the health service sphere. The discussion will be still long and we expect further discussion on this issue during the second reading. Now I am pleased that we made a little progress and that we agreed on unanimous resolution of the government.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister and now the Minister of Health, Mr. Tomáš Julínek has the floor.

Tomáš Julínek, Minister of Health: I would like to confirm the existence of that agreement which consists in establishing essential confidence between the Minister of Health and the individual coalition deputies regarding amendments to these laws during the debated on them in the Chamber of Deputies. It does not concern serious amendments; it concerns certain clause of the Act no. 20, it concerns certain motions which can be brought up as far as the Act on Specific Services is concerned. The point is whether consulting services before termination of pregnancy will be obligatory or not. Otherwise, we managed to include all comments which had been brought up by both the individual ministers and at the Saturday's meeting. We also tried to satisfy our colleagues who had presented their requirements and it was appreciated from their side. The Act on Public Health Insurance remains unsolved; we set deadline for Monday when there would be further meeting of the government held and at this meeting clear formulation of claims of patients, beneficiaries, resulting from the public health insurance and a definition of free of charge health service are expected. I have already informed you that there was not anything stipulated in the existing law. We proposed a text which was included in the law and we insisted on it as it was in compliance with the European standards. We are ready to amend this definition, to make it more exact and we expect that the respective proposals of our coalition partners will be submitted by Monday, because they were not able to formulate them exactly at Saturday's meeting. Only one article of the Act on Public Health Insurance, which is an accompanying law to those laws that were approved today, remains to be specified and I believe that an agreement on it will be reached as we are all in the same boat; all of us want the claim resulting from the public health insurance to be clearly defined and we are ready to accept all good definitions or improvements. A debate was held on pregnancy termination; we as the government decided on two variants and we were prepared for concessions to the KDU-ČSL (Christian Democratic Party) in all areas which had been required apart from necessity to respect primary law, according to which citizens of the EU entering our republic had a right to terminate pregnancy following the regulation of the EU. The government adopted a text which was in compliance with primary care. Access to abortion was forbidden for citizens of non-member countries of the EU. Such a text had been proposed in fact by the Legislative Council of the Government and we agreed on it. It will depend on the debate at the Chamber of Deputies whether the text will be amended or not. An agreement on it was reached because we, at the meeting of the government, could not propose breach of the primary law of the EU. That was brief information. These are laws which we are submitting in the first batch. As you can see, it is the basic amendment to the Czech law system in the health service area and I can assure you that the law of 1966 really is not possible to meet our needs; all these laws are positive for all patients and citizens of the Czech Republic and for health service providers. It is the basic certainty for those who are involved in the health service area. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Health. Now I ask the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs to inform us on the pro-family package which was approved by the government today.
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Good afternoon. The government unanimously approved today so called pro-family package, which was a proposal aimed at support of families with children. The family policy is the basic priority of this government and we want to create favourable situation for functioning of families and for the harmonization of their family and working life. Concurrently, we intend to respond to the situation in the Czech Republic as there are no services for families available. The measures are proposed as follows: we propose to introduce so called paternity benefit, which is a new allowance paid from the system of health insurance and its purpose is to support the active paternity. Fathers will be able to take one-week paternity leave in the first six weeks after birth of a child. The amount will be the same as it is in case of maternity leave and it will amount to 70% of the daily assessment basis for health insurance. There are certain economic impacts expected which will be at the expenditure side at the amount of 300-400 million crowns yearly and there will be also lower collection of health insurance premium; it will be lower by 140-160 million crowns. Besides, we want to take a legislative measure in the sphere of harmonization of working and family life in our country. As you certainly now, marked decrease in number of kindergartens have taken place in the last ten years. Moreover, the birth rate has exceeded 100000 children in three years in succession, and in addition to there are no fees for attendance of the last class in kindergartens. If we take into consideration the fact that there are lots of postponements in entering elementary schools, there is a great pressure to capacity of kindergartens. Apart from that we have found out that one quarter of children between second and third year of age attended kindergartens even though such children should not have attended them according to the existing rules. Also this fact contributes to the pressure to capacity of kindergartens. There is also shortage of nurseries in our country. According to the opinions of leading psychologists, nurseries are not optimal facilities for children below three years of age. Also the Ministry of Health expressed its opinion that nurseries should not be classified as health service facilities as care was provided for healthy children. Here you can see how markedly the number of kindergartens dropped and I should say that it happened under the governance of the Social Democratic Party which boasts of supporting families. The fact is that the number of kindergartens dropped markedly and now we must to find some alternative models which would improve the situation. The first step which we want to introduce is so called registered provider of mutual parental aid. We want to make legal that state which is very frequent nowadays in the zone of grey economy. We want to increase the spectrum of services aimed at care for children and to make it available. We try to make the system as simple as possible so that to reduce bureaucracy. Such a system should be cheap, easily applicable, supporting private activities and non-burdening the state budget. I would like to point out that most of proposed measures were introduced in number of advanced countries. We did not invent anything new. Providers of mutual parental aid must comply with certain minimal necessary conditions. They must take care of their own children below seven years of age. They can take care of up to four children below seven years of age; their own children are included in the total number and also their households must be in compliance with minimal requirements. Providers are entitled to accept remuneration for such services amounted up to 15000 crowns monthly. I would like to emphasize that no taxes and payments to the health and social insurance are levied. It is net income. As I have already said, the system is based on experiences of advanced countries; in France licensed providers take care of 18% children under three years of age. 240000 children between three and six years of age use care of licensed providers. Similar systems are introduced in Great Britain, Germany and Switzerland where the mutual parental aid is widespread in the form of so called "tagesmutter" or "tagesvater". This service has expanded in particular during last 15 years and it covers especially children under three years of age. Maximally five children can be taken care of; the remuneration is limited. We were very inspired by a model that had been introduced by the Federal Province of Vienna. I would like to emphasize that it was the social democratic government of the Federal Province of Vienna which introduced it, and the system was introduced more than thirty years ago. Daily mothers take care of up to five children and there are 51% of places where daily mothers take care of children and to which the Vienna municipality of Vienna contributes. In our country the contribution is in the form of tax relief and health and social insurance exemption. Besides, we want to extend the support of care of children in the sphere of business in trade. We want to simplify certain requirements for children's care facilities with lower number of children and to add some requirements relating to qualification. We also identified large space on the labour market for women over 50 years of age on rural areas or in smaller towns where there was a shortage of jobs. It would be a professional trade in case of care of children under three years of age and unqualified trade in case of after-school education and instructor activities. The activities would be done in providers´ households or at other suitable places. Provider would be allowed to take care of four children at a maximum and his/her own children would be included in this number. As I have already said, we want to specify reasonable requirements for the hygienic area, for space and we also want to limit number of children. There are required minimal necessary equipment of those facilities respecting children's needs. We also want to require professional skills of providers in this area and to require a certificate on retraining or other document on professional qualification. Further instrument which will be proposed in legislation is the establishment of mini-kindergartens, which would be a new possibility how to broaden offer of services in the sphere of care of children of employed parents who prefer rather individual care or of parents in settlements where there are no other services available. I would like to point out that it concerns rural areas. The service will be most often provided by en employer at workplace or by non-profit subjects, e.g. maternity centres, municipalities, regions civic societies, clerical societies and such like. The mini-kindergarten is a children's care service which is established at non-commercial basis and which is not provided in order to make profit. They will be established for four children at a maximum for children between 6 moths and 7 years of age. Children of the provider are included in that number. I would like to emphasize that an employer may establish several mini-kindergartens within one firm. Their number depends on number of children of one care provider. This service does not include baby-sit activities but it covers also care aimed at general development of children with regard to their age and individual particularities. All of us know that not every child is mature and content in a kindergarten; most children would prefer rather smaller groups which would be based on family principles. Hygienic and space requirements which are valid for standard kindergartens would not be applied for those mini-kindergartens. Promoters would cover costs of those facilities and those financial means would be tax deductible items. Following a mutual agreement parents would also contribute to these services. Such care is a complementary care to the family care and it does not substitute it; it must correspond to the age and individual particularities of children. We want to motivate employers through an amendment to the Act on Income Tax and the government approved to include those costs relating to the activities of children's care centres, nurseries, mini-kindergartens, centres for upbringing and education and contributions of employers to children's care among tax deductible items. Another key element through which we want to support by these changes is the promotion of part-time jobs. On this table you can see how low is that figure in our country – only 3,5%, while the EU average is 19%, for example Netherlands has 35% and countries of a similar cultural tradition like Germany or Austria have 28 or 30% of part-time jobs. It is striking in particular if we take the category of women between 20-49 years of age with at least one child under 12 years of age into consideration. In that category you can see how low is the number of part-time jobs – only 3,9% while in Netherlands it is 55% and in Germany and Austria 32% and 35% respectively. We want to support the offer of part-time jobs and harmonization of working and family life through abatements of health and social insurance payments for employers. For employers who create part-time jobs up to 0,8 of full-time job, the abatement will be 1500 crowns monthly. In addition to that we want to support fostering. Fosters will be given remuneration directly from the state. These were basic elements of the pro-family package which would be worked-out in the form of a legislative amendment in the following months. We would like to have the respective law ready by the end of the first quarter of the next year, at the latest as we are of the opinion that it will lead to better harmonization and to connection of working life with care of children. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his presentation and now I ask the Minister of Finance, Mr. Miroslav Kalousek, to take the floor.

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: Thank you, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I had the honour to submit the Draft Tax Code to the government and thus to accomplish the first third of the entire scenario of the tax reform. Allow me to remind you that the tax reform has three pillars – the reform of legislation including the new Act on Income Tax, the reform of processes which includes just this Tax Code, and the reform of institutions which covers the one-stop public budget collection point. The Tax Code will replace that out-of-date and many times amended Act on Tax and Fees Administration. I have the first draft prepared as early as in 2007; nevertheless it was very important for the draft to be widely acceptable for the entrepreneurial sphere – not only for tax administrators but also for tax-payers. That is why I established an expert group and I asked one of my predecessors, the Federal Minister of Finance and long-standing Deputy Minister of Finance Jan Klak to head this expert group. Members of the group were not only representatives of the individual ministries but also entrepreneurs, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, justice, tax administration, the Chamber of Tax Advisors and academic community. In the framework of that group the essential issues were discussed for more than one year and its members were trying to reach a solution which would result in a marked progress. If you remember, in the beginning of April I published the draft on our web-sites to be discussed by the public and I thank for comments as many of them were used. The result is the definite Draft of the Tax Code which describes how taxes will be levied and administered. I am of the opinion that it is a legal norm which is very comprehensible for tax-payers. It markedly strengthens legal certainty of tax administrator and makes the entire process simpler. I would like to point out the principal points of this draft and changes in the existing law. The first priority we focused on was comprehensibility of this legal norm, so that it would be synoptic and systemically arranged in the individual articles. The draft contents clearer articulation and unified definition of terms as well as improvements of principles of the tax process as it is based on the principles of the general administration process. The second priority was a modern and effective administration which ensured reduction of the administrative burden. The draft contents far greater support of the electronization of the tax administration and fully electronic communication of the tax administration with its addressees. Also rules for document delivering are stipulated which bring certainty of deliveries for both sides and exclusion of disputes regarding deliveries. Clear rules of registration and search in documents are stipulated. Tax-payers have the right to search during the tax proceedings in complete list of all documents included in the file. Far better interlink in relation to review made in the framework of administrative judiciary ensures fast and effective settlement of disputes between tax-payers and the tax administrator. The draft also removes existing restriction in choosing a statutory representative; according to the existing law only tax advisor may act as a statutory representative. This restriction is removed and thus services may be cheaper. It is also stipulated a possibility to forgive interest on overdue payment. If the tax administrator enables waiting until solvency of a debtor, it must not concurrently forgive interest on overdue payments. Such an interest may be forgiven only in case of a new application and in case of new proceedings. The interest on overdue payment may be ceased immediately in the first application. It is possible to finish the tax control and tax execution by the original tax administrator even in case of change of an administrator. The existing rules require staring new proceedings in case of change of seat of a firm. Thus proceedings are unnecessarily prolonged. According to the new Tax Code the original tax administrator finishes the proceedings. Also the possibility of submission of additional tax returns is extended at the expense of renewal of proceedings. Nowadays, if you want to correct and to decrease rightfully your levy, you have to apply for new proceedings. According to the new Tax Code it will be enough to submit a new tax return. A very important part of this draft is amelioration of harshness of the legislation and removal of certain vagueness. It concerns in particular postponement of the due date of the tax imposed only after the final decision after an appeal. An example from the practice – if a tax control is done and tax imposed at higher amount than it had been paid by a tax-payer and the tax-payer does not agree, he/she must pay immediately. I propose the payments after appellate proceedings. Unambiguous requirement is stipulated that the tax administrator must give reasons for his decision. A significant change concerns payment priorities – whether tax or penalty will be paid first. Nowadays it is penalty which has priority and especially small entrepreneurs often face situation when they pay penalty and interests of the tax increase. Thus, even if they try to pay their debts, those debts increase. In the draft there is proposed to pay the tax first and only after that to pay penalty and interests. Also an unambiguous rule for repetition of tax controls is stipulated. We consistently apply the cliental approach – to act friendly to those who pay taxes and to act harshly to do not pay them. Solid tax-payers must feel as if they were clients, dishonest people must be endangered. We must shorten the general term after the expiration of which it is possible to defend against inactivity. Nowadays the term after which you can contest a tax administrator because of his inactivity is six months. We want to shorten it to three months. The term for tax imposing must be unambiguously set as well. As a breakthrough in this proposal is the instrument of remission of taxes. From certain media cases you know that the Minister of Finance has nearly feudal power not only to excuse penalty but also to excuse additionally imposed tax. If we are to submit clear and comprehensive process and mechanism of tax administration I do not think that the Minister of Finance should have such power. The law must be for everybody. Tax-payers may apply to an administrative court but we remove the possibility of remission of taxes. The last sphere which is very important in the new Tax Code is a new concept of tax execution. All powers of tax administrators who act in a position of a court are stipulated in the tax Code. It will not be possible for them to refer to adequate application of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Everything is stipulated in the new Tax Code. It is comprehensible and rules are clear. It is also clearly stipulated in it that attention must be paid to costs of execution, so that they would not be higher that the debt, which is unfortunately very common in practice. We exclude this. It will not be possible for twenty-thousand-amount to be extorted by such a way that costs would amount to hundred thousand crowns. The last change in the sphere of execution concerns absolutely clear rules for auctions of movables and immovables and relating proceedings. All those who will face such a situation will have rules and legal certainty. I would like to thank once more experts and the public who participated in preparation of this draft. I am convinced that it is an extraordinary work which will make life of tax-payers and tax administrators easier. We are in a hurry as we want the Code to be in force starting from 1st January 2009 and effective as of January 2010 because this one-year vacantia legis is necessary for tax payers and tax administrators so that they could get accustomed to new rules and new process.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Finance and now there is time for your questions. Who will be the first one? The Czech TV.

Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: Good afternoon, I would like to ask the Minister of Health about the postponement to Monday, about that specification. What must be specified? The fundamental disagreement of the KDU-ČSL is clearly formulated. What will be specified? Is not it a flop of these negotiations? You could not agree on that. Thank you.

Tomáš Julínek, Minister of Health: It concerns the Act on Public Health Insurance which accompanies the other laws amending legal rules in the health service sphere. It is a supplementary law and there are few changes in it. Only inoculation against pneumococcus is newly introduced and also claims of beneficiaries are more exactly stipulated; I mean what includes the free of charge health services. It is specified in a definition which was incorporated in the Article no. 18. It is not a problem of changing the law but rather a problem of mutual trust that as all of us understand it in the same way. Citizens should have their claims clearly specified. If they enter a health service facility they do not know what is involved in the free of charge health services; that is why we incorporated the definition in the law - now, it is a problem of our mutual trust or rather trust of certain deputies. We must confirm that that we understand it in the same ways as it is stipulated there. We asked them to make the definition clearer if they are convinced that it is not so clear. However they were not able to specify the definition and so we proposed four version and we would submit these versions to them. They would have time enough to prepare themselves for the negotiation and we would jointly finish the Article no. 18 in favour of our citizens, so that all of us would be convinced that the Article would define exactly claims of citizens for free of charge health services. This is the only one problem of the law. It is important for it to be approved together with the other laws.

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: If you allow me to add something, as I am the minister for the KDU-ČSL I would like to reflect to the statement of Mr. Takáč on the fundamental disagreement of the KDU-ČSL. A would like to emphasize that all laws which were approved today were approved unanimously by all votes of present members of the government. The only one remaining matter is that that was mentioned by the Minister. It is not a dispute on a concept it is just a technical matter to find the most suitable formulation. It means that I am convinced that we will find it and the law will be approved on Monday.

Tomáš Julínek, Minister of Health: The purpose of it is to reach confidence of all of us that they are correctly defined claims of our citizens.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question – the Czech News Agency.

Jakub Dospiva, Czech News Agency: When will these laws be passed to the Parliament? Then, I have two questions which do not concern the health service sphere. The first one concerns the Act on Classified Information. If I understood it well, entrepreneurs will have to pay a fee for vetting. I would like to know how high the fess will be according to that bill. One of item of the agenda concerned calling 200 soldiers to perform duties of the Police of the Czech Republic during the Czech EU Presidency. Was that point approved?

Tomáš Julínek, Minister of Health: I will just briefly say one important matter. The sooner these laws are passed by the Parliament the better for the Czech health service sphere as they will be lined with budgetary measures concerning inoculation and such like. The sooner they are approved the better. I will insist on the soonest possible terms of the debate on them, even in the framework of an extraordinary session.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I do not know whether any of my colleagues know it but Dušan Navrátil, the Director of the NBÚ (National Security Authority) will organize a press conference and there he will inform you on details. On the one hand entrepreneurs will have to pay something but on the other hand the certification for classified information in the regime "Restricted" is abolished for entrepreneurs. The entire law is tailored to entrepreneurs´ sphere and I do not now whether they will have to pay that fee or not. Mr. Dušan Navrátil will certainly explain it to you. Perhaps Miroslav Kalousek knows something on it.

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: I am sorry to say I do not know the exact figure; I was interested in total impacts of that proposal. The proposal will save some tens million crowns as it makes the entire process simpler. But what is more important, it will save about 3 billion crowns on administrative costs in the entrepreneurial sphere as it makes the process simpler and reduces administrative costs.

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

Olga Málková, Czech TV
: I have a question to Mr. Minister Nečas – that pro-family package will be only transformed into an articulated bill and then it will be passed to the Chamber of Deputies after the first quarter of the following year. Will it be so?
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Yes, these principles, which were approved today, accompanied with the new concept of support of families with children, will be transformed in concrete articles and sections and it will be debated by the government in the course of the first quarter of the year.

Olga Málková, Czech TV: It means that the effect starting from 2010 is realistic, is not it?

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Yes, I am of the opinion that the law may come into effect starting from 2009 after its approval of the Chamber of Deputies and by the Senate. Olga Málková, Czech TV: I would like to ask – in the original proposal those mini-kindergartens were intended for 5 children. Why this number was reduced to 4 children?

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: We consulted this issue with experts in paediatrics and psychology. Finally we decided to choose the cautious variant; nevertheless, if you take experience of other countries into consideration, you will find out that the number 4-5 children is quite standard. Romana Navarová, iDnes: I would like to ask Mr. Minister Nečas for his statement – your shadow minister of the opposition said in the morning that she would be resolutely against any parents´ assistance. Do you think that this issue might be doubted in a similar as it was in case of Minister Julínek´s laws of the health service sphere?

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: First, I would like to point out that this proposal won the support of the coalition. Second, I would be disappointed if the opposition was against only because of some ideological reasons; there are no other reasons there. I want to emphasize again – we did not invented a wheel; we are just trying to apply practical experiences of West-European countries. In particular, I would like to draw your attention to the model that was implemented in Vienna by Social Democrats. We are very inspired by this model. In this respect, I do not draw a distinction between right-wing and left-wing solutions but between good and bad solutions. We were trying to reach good solution and in this respect I would like to emphasize one aspect. Even if, just theoretically, 100 mothers were in our country who would be willing to take care of children and 100 mothers who would be willing to put their children into care, I cannot see any reason for hampering it. It is very common nowadays in the so called grey zone; all of us know about it. We want to be done in compliance with clear rules. I regard as rather weak-minded to adhere to some ideological principles; it is nonsensical. Let us give people liberty to choose. In case people are not interested in it, it will not be realized; there will be lack of parents who would be willing to take care of children and there will be lack of parents to who would be willing to put children into care. We want just to enable people to have liberty to choose. I do not understand those who are against it.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you.

TV Markýza: I have a question to the Prime Minister. I would like to revert to the Act on National Holidays, on other Holidays on Important Days and on Days of Rest. Is not it rather late to declare that day 17 years after the last Russian soldier left our territory? Is not it rather curious that the proposal was brought up by children of the Children's Parliament? Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I am also of the opinion that Russians left late. You are right. I do not think it is late for such an act. Fortunately, that act does not jeopardize the state budget unlike some other holidays. It is an important day and for me it is a very significant day. Better late than never. I attended the session of the Children's Parliament. I think we underestimate children and youth. If children brought up that proposal, it was a facer to their parents; nevertheless, it is good that based on sessions of those children, based on their ideas, something is put into subconscious of children and youth – something that is hardly to be put there at school. The fact that children mix the Prague Spring with the Velvet Revolution is rather sad; nevertheless, every matter, every event which recall our history, which give us a chance not to repeat it, is correct.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson
: Thank you.
Olga Málková, Czech TV: I have two questions which do not concern the meeting of the government. A question to the Prime Minister – the French President Sarkozy plans to organize great summits in the course of our EU presidency which will concern Georgia, the Eurozone, the financial crisis, for example. Moreover, the French side claims that the Czech side does not have experience enough to organize such great events, such summits. Will you try to organize those summits and will you try to make an agreement with France on their organization in the Czech Republic?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I should say that we can hardly organize the G4 summit as we are not members. We cannot organize the Eurogroup Summit either as we are not members. You call them summits but they are rather standard meetings. As to the Eurogroup Summit, we extorted that we would have our representative at the summit, which would not be standard; Nicholas Sarkozy acceded to it. We ourselves will organize number of summits, whether it will be the summit in Washington or the summit with Russia or the summit with Canada and Japan. We will maybe organize the summit with South Korea after the French EU presidency and the RIA session on the level of ministers of foreign affairs. We will possibly organize the summit with Israel and the summit which will concern the East-European dimension of the European policy. If somebody has an idea to organize another summit, we can hardly prevent him from it. Some of summits which were organized by us, for example the NATO summit 6 years ago, showed that we were able to organize them even better than some other countries. In this respect, I regard it as a media outcry; I know opinions of Nicholas Sarkozy. I should say that this issue does not endanger our EU presidency and I do not even think that it is his opinion.
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: I would add to it, based on my experience acquired during several EU presidency, that I am deeply convinced that the Czech EU presidency will not change terms and venues of summits at the last moment, as it in case of the present presidency. I do not think that there will be many cases of lost luggage and that ministers will be walking along corridors trying to find the right way. Every country gives evidence on its organizational abilities when it organizes summits. I do not think that France is a country which would be justified to give us lessons.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Mladá fronta Dnes.
Mladá fronta Dnes: I would like to ask the Minister of Health a question concerning mutual links of the Act on Health Services and the Act on Public Health Insurance. If I am not mistaken there is stipulated in the Act on Health Services that the individual facilities will have to publish prices of services which will be paid by patients. Is it possible? You have not reached an agreement on the definition of the basic care which will be paid from the health insurance. Is it possible to apply the respective clauses if the agreement is not reached? And I have the second question to the Prime Minister – could you say what progress was reached during your negotiations with Mr. Paroubek on a possible agreement concerning our EU presidency.

Tomáš Julínek, Minister of Health
: As to the price list, it concerns the Act on Health Services. It gives clear right to patients, and one of them is a duty to publish price lists. It does not depend on the wording of the Act on Public Health Insurance because as early as now there are some services which must be paid by patients and there is not duty of health service providers to publish prices. It will be applicable also in case of additional charges and I cannot imagine that we would be unable to reach an agreement. There is no reason for that. It is just a question of negotiations and finding precise definitions. The only one alternative would consist in preservation of the existing Act no. 48/1997 Coll. in which no definition is stipulated. We would have the existing state when it is not clear what the claims of patients are like. If you come to a doctor with certain disease you should have the right to adequate treatment in the right health service facility, and such a treatment should be safe. This is a sentence from our definition which is not included in the existing law. Nowadays they can treat you unsafely in not adequate facility and the treatment can be inadequate either. The new clause is just the progress in providing guarantees for patients. The problem is that all of us must believe that the definition in question really expresses such guarantees. It has no connection with price lists.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: Now it is my turn. I have not spoken officially to Mr. Paroubek about this matter. We met in the Chamber of Deputies unofficially and we discussed whether there were reasons for such a negotiation. We agreed that there were such reasons. We commissioned our representatives to negotiate a draft of an agreement which would be discussed by us later on. Representatives of our side are Alexandr Vondra and Adéla Kadlecová who is the Head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Office of the Government. The Social Democratic Party is represented by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Kohoutnad Lubomír Zaorálek. After I have the text at my disposal we will make an agreement with our coalition partners and then we will negotiate with Mr. Paroubek. That is all. The agreement will certainly not contain any trades; only mechanism of functioning will be specified. The agreement will contain conditions for participation of the opposition in the activities connected with the EU presidency and certain clause on priorities of our presidency will be included as well. Those priorities are rather reduced and they are similar to standard agenda of the EU and sessions of the European Council in the next half of the year. It should be rather declarative matter than a binding document and it is a standard means in the framework of the EU countries.

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

TV Nova: I have a question to the Minister of Finance. What do you say to the proposal of the Croatian government to ban night parties due to the crisis in the state sector? Do you consider introduction of a similar measure in our country? Then I have a question to the Prime Minister. An American scientist Theodor Posstel was invited by Greenpeace and visited the Czech Republic today. He said that the data we had are wrong as Americans claim that the radar has range of 200 km but according to him it was only 700 km. Can you make some comment on it?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I remember a scientist who was even the Chief of Greenpeace and now he is a promoter of nuclear energy. I am in contact with the official American administration. The scientist whom you cite was in Pentagon sometime in 1983-1984. Anybody may invite anybody. Only confirmed information I regard as relevant, not information of somebody who made a pre-Christmas trip to our country.

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: Generally speaking, I like all proposals which are focused on economies; nevertheless, I am not such a hero to ban parties in the state administration. I might remain in the building alone.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I do not know anything about the situation in television but there are no parties at our office.
Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: I did not mean in the building, but employees usually organize those Christmas parties in a restaurant. They are building teams. But they pay for it. Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: The Czech TV. Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: I would like to ask the Prime Minister for his comments on the negotiation of your regional representations on coalition with the Social Democratic Party. To what extent does it impair interests of the ODS (Civic Democratic Party)? What do you say about it? The second question concerns issue of visa for Vietnamese which was ceased by the end of the year. What can happen in that period? What can be changed?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: As to the first question, the Executive Committee of the ODS, whose member I am, recommended regional representations to respect two essential requirements in negotiating on future coalitions. The first one is the ban of cooperation with the KSČM (Communist Party) and the second one is observance of programme priorities of the ODS. With regard to the fact that I regard fees as a part of the reform in the health sphere, you cannot expect any concessions from my side in this area in return to some chairs in regional councils. My statement that we won one election in this year and lost two elections, which means the score 1:2 will have to be changed after those concessions to 1:3. Everything is said by this. The autonomy of regional representations is nearly absolute in this respect. We will certainly be holding a debate on that issue. It need not be such a tragedy if we will function in those coalitions as the ODS – right-wing liberally-conservative party; if it will not be only a trade. Before I express my final judgement, I will wait for the final results of those regional coalitions as I regard it as premature at present. The second issue concerns visa. I do not know whether it would be better to leave it to some colleague of mine. Misuses of free possibility to get visa has grown to extraordinary extent recently. We are monitoring the situation attentively. The Minister Řebíček and the Minister Říman have been in Vietnam recently and we have been discussing this issue with the Vietnamese representation. There are number of problems there in the area about which the Vietnamese side is informed. We signed a local agreement as the mechanisms were not still enable us to relax the entire process because there were number of people who come through various agencies to pre-arranged jobs, remain there for a short time and then they were operating in the grey economy. We want to monitor this process by the end of the year and then we will decide whether Vietnamese citizens will be able to get so called "Green card" or not. I suppose that it is a normal process. Entrepreneurs need employees in spite of the fact that the demand will not be as high as it was expected at the beginning of the year owing to consequences of the financial crisis. We want entrepreneurs to use predominantly Czech citizens; nevertheless the assessment and the response of the government can be expected only after the end of the year. The situation will be monitored by the end of the year. Perhaps Petr Nečas wants to add something.
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: I would like to say that the number of Vietnamese workers has increased in the Czech Republic many times recently. Now I am speaking about legally registered persons. Great number of problems has been identified. The Ministry of Interior submitted a material through which it drew attention to certain problems; nevertheless, it was just short-term measure. The term by the end of the year is to enable adoption of certain measures in particular security area which would enable us to return to the issue of visas. Those problems are also on the Czech side. They should be solved as the reasons stated by the Ministry of Interior are serious.

Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: Just a small additional question to the Prime Minister concerning the home policy. Does your ODS Chairman rival candidate Pavel Bém is a man who would conclude great coalition with the CSSD (Social Democratic Party)?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I think you must understand that this is the press conference after the meeting of the government and in those intraparty issue may be interested only members of the ODS. The general public might be interested in them only in case of a decision on a programme or personnel changes. By that time I would like you to stop asking those questions and to give us time to persuade the grass roots on our priorities; neither I nor Pavel Bém desire to exchange our opinions through media. Thank you for understanding.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the Z1 TV asked to speak.

: I would like to ask the Prime Minister about his article in Hospodářské noviny You mentioned open moats between the Castle and the Straka´s Academy (the seat of the government). Will you solve this issue somehow with regard to the EU presidency of the Czech Republic?

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I am sorry to say it is the same case. It is the press conference of the government.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister: I recommend to read the article and to try to understand it.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: It is the press conference of the government. Thank you and good-bye.

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