Press Conferences

16. 7. 2007 10:33

Press conference after the meeting of the government held on 11th June, 2007

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. Let me excuse the absence of the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who is leaving for the Hrzán Palace, where a meeting with ambassadors of the European Union will be held. I welcome here members of the government, the First Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Jiří Čunek, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Miroslav Kalousek, and the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Petr Gandalovič. I ask the First Deputy Prime Minister for the introductory speech.
Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The government held its meeting for a long time as it had extraordinary extensive agenda. Nevertheless, you have the agenda at your disposal and so I will make some comments on it. As to the oral information of members of the government, it will be my colleague Kalousek, who will inform you as he was in Brussels yesterday. Regarding the point no. 4 I can just say that the government finally approved, after a long discussion, the state guarantee to secure the loans of the EUROFIMA company. The discussion had been held because we will be exposed to the impact of credits by 2017. It means that it exceeds the mandate of this government extremely and we have taken all the risks into consideration. As to the point no. 5, it concerns the area of Minister Gandalovič and therefore I will skip it; he will inform you on it or you will be able to ask questions. The point no. 6 concerns technical requirements for medical devices. It concerns endo-prosthesis and new requirements are stipulated, I could say stricter requirements are stipulated for these products; it means for endo-prosthesis. It is because of long implantation of these products in human bodies and therefore they must meet the strictest requirements, which are stipulated just by this legal norm. The point no. 8 concerns changes in legislation regulating public budgets to ensure better transparency in granting subsidies and other transfers in order to curb corruption. It is a legal norm that should open all the subsidies to the public, so that all people could control how much money the respective subjects receive, for what the subsidies are used; it means that it concerns the entire process of provision of public grants. As to the point no. 9 – Effective Public Administration and Friendly Public services – I hope that my colleague minister Langer will arrive, who submitted that report. There was a long debate held concerning the way how to make activities of the public administration more effective; it concerned issues which are being criticized not only from the side of entrepreneurial subjects but also by citizens and from the side of the political spectrum, even by certain ministers. It concerned the fact that the individual laws, decrees and the individual state documents are not mutually linked. They are a lot of duplicities here because the ministries issue similar legal norms and thus they burden the state administration and citizens. The point no. 11 – Analysis of the Administrative Burden of the Entrepreneurs – it concerns in fact the similar issue as in the previous case. The problem is that the government wants to decrease the administrative burden of entrepreneurial subjects maximally, because it promised to do so in the Programme Declaration of the Government. In other words, it concerned all that what an entrepreneurial must do to meet requirements of the state, his/her duties, forms, duties to report, etc. It concerns the decrease of the administrative burden of entrepreneurial subject. The Lifelong Learning Strategy was approved by the government and the point no. 16 – Methodology Concerning Certain General Technical Specifications to be applied in Public Procurement of Personal Computers, this point concerns again curb of corruption, it concerns the fact that specifications was such detailed and they described a product so clearly so as to prevent other products to be successful in a competition, as the specification directly indicated what product was to be chosen. This drawback is removed by this methodology. It is also important because we must realize that in the following seven years we will have nearly 25 billion crowns at our disposal to implement the system, which concerns in particular IT technologies, computers and such like, on all levels of the public administration; it means on the central, regional and local level. It means that the methodology has been prepared in time so that a real competition in case of significant transfers of financial means could take place. And perhaps one of the last points that were debated by the government concerned the Report on the State of Security in Mining Industry. In this case one positive aspect has been mentioned; it concerned the fact that only five fatal accidents in this sphere occurred in the last year, which is the lowest number in past years. I do not want to say that it was the lowest number in the entire history of mining, but in many past years. I will still revert to the oral information of the individual members of the government on the European issues. As far as the Ministry for Regional Development is concerned, I informed the government of all the steps, which the Ministry had had to taken regarding the National Strategic Reference Framework, had been taken and no reservations occurred. We expect the framework to be signed by 20th July by both sides, I mean by me and Commissioner Hübner. Concurrently, negotiations concerning four operational programmes are being held very actively and some others are going to begin. Unfortunately, I must state that the European Commission did not manage to work out so called position documents, which are in fact a reply to these operational programmes. Their duty was to do so in several weeks. Unfortunately, it has not been done up to now. And now I give the floor to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Kalouse
Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: Nice day, ladies and gentlemen. I informed about it yesterday, but as it was mentioned at the meeting of the government as oral information, I will briefly inform you on it. I informed the government on the yesterday's meeting of the Council of Ministers of Finance, which debated both the convergence programme of the Czech Republic and the procedure concerning the excessive deficit of the state budget since 2004. The assessment of the EU is critical. The criticism can be summarized in three basic spheres. The first sphere is the fact that the Czech Republic did not use its revenues for the deficit decrease in the past years, but on the contrary, it increased expenditures. It increased expenditures beyond the binding expenditure limits set in its own convergence programme; and it concerns the second part of the criticism. It means that the deficit was not decreased through these revenues, but the government increased expenditure limits, which were binding. Only in 2006 those binding expenditure limits were exceeded by 41 billion crowns. And the third sphere of criticism was constant postponement of reforms, which have connection with aging population, without which we cannot expect long-term stabilization of public budgets. I mean the reform of the pension system and the reform of public health insurance. And our proposal for the Council Decision to state that measures, which were taken in the past by the Czech Republic to stabilize public budgets, were not adequate has connection with it. This Decision is a kind of a process bridge leading to further recommendations, which will be debated at the October Council of Ministers of Finance and it is possible to expect that such recommendations for the Czech Republic will be formulated concerning public expenditures, which might not be very painful but they will be logical and they can be expected. I regard the analysis of the European Commission as absolutely objective. It indicates just the principal painful points, which the reform efforts of the government are aimed at. I was not just sitting and saying nothing, I did not raise my hand for the conclusion as I have read today with interest in the Hospodářské noviny daily. On the contrary; I was explaining thoroughly to my colleagues from countries of the EU the individual steps of the reform effort of the government of the Czech Republic; I mean measures, which would be taken this year and which measures would be taken in the following years in case of our success in the first year. Similarly, in more detailed manner, I debated these reform steps intended with the European Commissioner Almunia two weeks ago, just when we were preparing for that EKOFIN session. I must state with certain satisfaction, of course, that there is a sentence in the standpoint stating that stabilization measures contained in the Act on Stabilization of Public Budgets, which is being debated in the Czech parliament, the EU regard as steps in the right direction. I firmly believe that this step in the right direction will became a reality, so as we would not have to tell our colleagues in autumn that it was a step in the right direction but that development of public finances will be quite different. Now let me inform you of the fact that the government met today the Council Decision on establishing audit organs. It is a material that is rather boring and it is of a technical character but it is absolutely necessary for using sources from the structural funds. We could not use money of the EU without establishing central harmonization unit, the central auditor and authorized audit organs. The government did its duty today. As you asked me about the issue in the morning, you may be interested in the material, which was submitted by the Minister of Finance, and which concerned effort to increase transparency and to curb corruption in granting subsidies from central funds. I submitted an idea to the government, which could be briefly explained as granting subsidies in live broadcast. It means that there should not be any exclusive information for those who take decision on a subsidy. The entire process should be published on the Internet and it should be assigned to all the administrators of the respective programmes. The government approved this idea and decided that the individual ministers, who are responsible for application of the respective legal norms on granting subsidies, will submit to the Minister of Finance and to the Chairman of the Legislative Council of the Government their proposals as a kind of subcontract, and the Minister of Finance together with the Chairman of the Legislative Council of the Government will submit the final product, which will stipulate this duty, to the government by mid-October. In other words, the government is likely to debate the material in the legislative form in the second half of October. As to the points that concerned me it is all and I am ready to answer your questions.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Finance and now I will give the floor to the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Petr Gandalovič.
Petr Gandalovič, Minister of Agriculture: I have unpleasant duty to inform you that further two incidences of bird flue occurred. Undoubtedly, it concerns the same centre, which began in the village of Tisová, it continued in Nořín and now it concerns Choceň and Netřeby. It concerns about 70 thousand pieces of poultry, and therefore the poultry will be liquidated and the same measures will follow as they were taken in previous cases. I would also like to calm the public that there are no reasons for a panic; on the contrary, this is evidence that everything operates correctly in the poultry monitoring system in the area because the bird flue was identified far before any symptoms could occur regarding death losses of birds. It means that the farm monitoring system operates correctly, and it is possible to calm citizens of the Czech Republic. I will visit the area tomorrow together with the Director of the Veterinarian Authority and with representatives of the Pardubice Region, and we will discuss further procedure. As I have already said, the affected poultry will be liquidated, of course, and poultry in the individual areas will be liquidated, as well. With regard to the fact that it concerns the town of Choceň, the area is relatively large and we will have to take local conditions into consideration. Nevertheless, the situation is still under control in the area, where the bird flue occurred for the first time in the village of Tisová. So, it is not a new centre; the contamination was probably caused by movement of persons among the individual farms.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Agriculture. I welcome the Minister of Interior here and I give him the floor.
Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: Good afternoon. Let me inform you on three points that are within competences of the Ministry of Interior and that were on the agenda of the meeting of the government. The first point was the Analysis of the Administrative Burden of the Entrepreneurs. It was the Ministry of Interior, which was assigned with this task and it came to very interesting figures and data that confirm what we have been saying for a long time. Every clause of every regulation has its economic impacts, and if we want to improve situation of the Czech economy, we must take into consideration not only the tax sphere itself but also the area of administrative and regulatory burden of entrepreneurs. Based on this methodology which had been worked out by the Ministry of Interior, we came to staggering figure of more than 86 billion crowns, which is the total yearly administrative burden of entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic. These 86 billion crowns are spent by entrepreneurs for the routine administration, and every sensible administrator of the country must wish the money not to be spent uselessly but to rest entrepreneurs and thus enable entrepreneurship development in the Czech Republic. For that reason the government decided that based on this analysis the Ministry of Industry and Trade and other relevant ministries – the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs are to take measures to reduce in three years the administrative burden, and the target is very ambitious as the burden should be reduced by one fifth. If you calculate one fifth of those 86 billion crowns, I think it is the best investment incentive for all the entrepreneurial subjects in the Czech Republic. The second material of the meeting of the government, which had been prepared by the Ministry of Interior, has also connection with the area of public tenders in the sphere of information and communication technologies. It is related to a long-term objective of the government and I suppose the Minister of Finance to have spoken about one of those three pillars, I mean transparency in granting subsidies. It is connected with the intention of the government to fight against corruption and to make the entire process of public tenders more transparent. It concerns public tenders for purchase of personal computers. So, the government approved the methodology, which would prevent certain manufactures or products from being preferred based on technical specifications. Thus, those tenders would be more transparent and fairer than it is nowadays. The third topic, we were speaking about, and I am very pleased that the government supported it, was the continuation of the MEDEVAC Project in the following period of time. It is a very deserving project, that is being implemented under the control of the Ministry of Interior; it concerns in fact transport of ill and injured children from countries, which are stricken with conflicts, to the Czech Republic, in order to provide them with adequate medical care, in particular in such cases where complicated operations are necessary to be performed. The MEDEVAC Project has been implemented in past years, and in 1993-2007 more than 100 children were transported to the Czech Republic and attended to. We want to continue in this project in cooperation with the university hospital in Motol, and the government earmarked the amount of 5 million crowns, so that the MEDEVAC Project, which is meant for injured and ill children of conflict areas, could continue to exist. That is all, thank you.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Interior and now there is time for your question. Česká televize.
Jana Čermáková, ČT: Good afternoon. I have two question that do not concern today's meeting of the government; could anybody of you make some comments regarding the fact that the prosecutor discontinued the bio-spirit case. And the second matter concerns the Minister of Interior – you propose to annul validity of all the property transfers, which would be done within six months before beginning of his/her criminal prosecution, if it is so. And if it is so, why do you propose just this procedure; some lawyers criticize it. Do you think it will be viable? Thank you.
Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: I would like to make clear who proposes what. There exists a problem now, which can be called leakage of property, which may have its origin in criminal activities, in case that a person is detained, condemned or in case he/she evades criminal prosecution. And there is also an effort to prevent a person, who is suspected of property acquisition as a consequence of criminal activities, from using the property. I was asked what the standpoint of the Czech administration should be, and I said that I can imagine similar procedure like in case of bankruptcy proceedings. It means to make property handling more difficult for persons who are suspected or accused or prosecuted because of property criminal activities, and to annul property transfers done some time before notice of accusation or filing an action, so that those persons could not use it. It is just a proposal, it is kind of inspiration and I think it is useless to argue whether it is good or not. It is rather necessary to ask whether we want to solve the problem or not. I am convinced that we want to solve it and we must solve it, and this is inspiration, one of possibilities, how to prevent those who are to be in prison or who are in the prison, from using this property. That is all.
Jana Čermáková, ČT: Perhaps that question is also to you, minister. Could you make some comments on the fact that the prosecutor discontinued the bio-spirit case?
Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: It is a matter of prosecuting and adjudicating bodies and it is not for me to make comments. We will see how the relevant police organ will decide, whether it will submit a complaint against it. I have not information enough and competences enough to make some comments on it.
Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I have no information on it, and therefore I cannot express my opinion.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. The TV Nova, please.
Kamil Houska, TV Nova: Good afternoon. I have two questions to Mr. Kalousek. First, I would like to know whether all minister supported the issue of subsidies or whether there certain reservations occurred. I do not care for names of ministers; I am rather interested whether certain reservation occurred. And then, I have a question, which is also connected with this. When I was speaking to Minister Řebříček in the morning, he said he could not see any problem regarding this issue, but he was very sceptical regarding the question whether it would curb corruption. Do you really think that it will not be possible to bribe officials just because of publishing it on the Internet? Thank you.
Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: The government supported that idea unanimously. The debate was rather on the most effective procedure as possible; whether it would be 19 amendments of laws or just one, whether the only one legislative product or more. The idea is supported unanimously and this is the answer to your first question. Regarding your second question – nobody thinks that it is a panacea. It is something that fits in a mosaic of government's effort to curb corruption and to increase transparency. I said that there are several basic tools here. The first tool is the decrease of redistribution rate; the less regulations, the smaller redistribution rate, the smaller space. But there are certain limits here, especially with regard to costs. The moment control costs begin to exceed amount of subsidies, it begins to be counterproductive. This is a tool that belongs to the sphere of prevention and limitation of the corruption environment. It is a tool extraordinary effective and also extraordinary low-cost. The public control has an advantage, apart from transparency increase, as it is nearly free. In other words, I am convinced that the best control, the cheapest control is the public control. And if you start to analyse the entire process and start to find a place where somebody may give in the temptation, then it is the area of exclusive information. It concerns those few people who have necessary information and the rest of the public has not any information. If we remove this place, then we will significantly reduce the risk of temptation, of course.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. The Minister of Interior will add something.
Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: I will just remark one thing. You know that the strategy of the government in its fight against corruption is based on three pillars: prevention, transparency and sanction. And this is a material, which concerns the transparency. I confirm what the Minister of Finance said; there was absolute support of the government.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, TV Prima, please.
Tomáš Drahoňovský, TV Prima: Good afternoon. I have a question to both ministers of the ODS. The question concerns today's result of the opinion poll of the Median company. An interesting phenomenon occurred, the ČSSD surpassed the ODS as far as popularity is concerned for the first time since the election. I would like to know what it is caused by. What do you think? Some people say that the government is not able to formulate its reforms enough, that the ODS is schism between the faction of Mr. Tlustý and the establishment. What is the reason of it, what do you think? Could it be just statistical error? Thank you.
Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: The difference stated by the opinion poll is within the statistical error. Nevertheless, if you ask me about my opinion, I do not think that the ODS is schism, you anticipate facts. But I think that one should always start from oneself and ask why the results are like this. I am convinced that one part of public, which supported and which supports the ODS is puzzled by disputes that are being publicized in the media. And I think that one of causes is just the fact that matters, which ought to be resolved at home, are not resolved at home but they are resolved on the TV.
Tomáš Drahoňovský, TV Prima: I will just add something. Political scientists, whom I was spoken to, mentioned insufficient and unclear formulation of the reform and insufficient explanation of advantages of the reform for the Czech citizens as one of reasons. And it will be perhaps a question to Minister Kalousek. Do you think that it is so; could it be one of reasons?
Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: I am neither an independent analyst not a political scientist to embark upon such consideration. I do not think that the public is not informed of the reform enough. I even think it is glutted with information on the reform. And I think that a voter who has life full of work and cares does not want to consider the individual details of the reform but he wants to hear and to feel that those who present the scenario are of the same opinion and that they support the scenario, and that there is readiness for action and an effort to reach targets there. If there are reservations about the marketing, I think that it is because of a lot of tones, which sound from one instrument and this is what the public is confused by and I understand it.
Tomáš Drahoňovský, TV Prima: I have one more question that concerns it, as well. The server iDnes published yesterday on-line interview with the Chairman Čunek and there was one question that the iDnes fastened on. The question was whether you could imagine Jiří Paroubek as your coalition partner and you answered yes and added that you had been a participant in negotiations and that Jiří Paroubek had been willing to make compromises. I would like to know whether you really can imagine the KDU-ČSL, under your tutelage, to be in the government with Jiří Paroubek. And why? Thank you.
Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Well, I do not think that the question concerned the exact time. It was just generally formulated question and I said that we had negotiated and in case of reaching a compromise the big coalition would have been formed. So, it did not concern any animosities or unfriendly attitudes. The fact that there is different situation today cannot lead me to a noncommittal answer. It means that I could have answer that the question was not relevant to current situation. But after some time not me but the KDU-ČSL could be blamed for negotiating with him, but the fact is that we were together in the government, we negotiated in December and then different agreement was reached. It means it did not concern these days. We have our coalition partners, we observe coalition agreements. I answered the question in a broader time context.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Further question, please. I just ask you for questions that refer to today's meeting. Thank you.
Jan Šindelář, ČTK: Good afternoon. I would revert to the meeting of the government. Maybe I misheard it but what was the result of the debate on the point no. 3, which concerned the Act on Consumer Protection? And then, I would like to ask about the point no. 17, whether the government changed competences that concerned the Galileo System.
Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Perhaps it is me who is to answer these questions. The point no. 3 was thoroughly debated. The problem was that not only all of us but in particular the submitter himself were of the opinion that there are a lot of regulations and lots of clauses of the law and we wanted to make the law far briefer. The amendment of this law was caused by the European legal norms and we, as a member state of the EU, must respond to them. But as we came to the conclusion that it was possible to make it simpler, the submitter withdrawn it and he would try to make it simpler. The point was suspended and it would be submitted at some of the following meetings of the government. The point no. 17 concerning the Galileo System was suspended as well and the Minister together with the Minister of Interior would be working on it. The point will be on the agenda at the end of September or in October.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Petr Janoušek, ČTK: Good afternoon. I would like to ask whether the government debated today also the issue of the Russian protest against vandalism at cemeteries in the Czech Republic or in what phase the investigation into this matter is. What measures will be taken by the Ministry of Interior to prevent such incidents from recurrence.
Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: I am absolutely convinced that such behaviour is not acceptable in a normal society. I must say unambiguously that I flatly condemn it. I spoke to the Prime Minister about it and I can convey his opinion, which absolutely condemns and refuses such display of vandalism. The only one way is a good work of the police, prosecution and adjudicating bodies. I wish people who had committed such blameful crime were traced as soon as possible, brought before a court and punished.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Interior. Further question, please.
Veronika Hankusová, Radiožurnál: Good afternoon. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance how the point no. 13 on biofuels controls before going to the market turned out. Thank you.
Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: I ask for postponement of this point until next week and the government satisfied.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Is there any further question, please? Česká televize.
Jana Čermáková, ČT: I would like to ask the Deputy Prime Minister about the meeting of the joint commission for Temelín, which was held today. The next meeting is to be held directly in Temelín and the third in Vienna. Do you think that such negotiations could help to improve anything? Is it good and useful for anything? Thank you.
Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Well, now it seems that this negotiation rather exacerbated the holiday atmosphere. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that some more detailed mutual communication will be established following the effort of the government and following the fact that we agreed to negotiation of the joint commission. And perhaps both parties will be appeased, because especially actions of enemies of Temelín hurt us and our citizens, as they hinder trade, passing of vehicles and persons on the Austrian side of borders. That was one of reasons why we started, based on mutual explanation, to find a way to a solution. Mutual communication is always good. With regard to the fact that members of parliaments are clearly chosen, it may help. But is it certain? It is just an effort.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Is there any further question? Thank you for your attention and good-bye.

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