Press Conferences

18. 7. 2007 11:31

Press conference after the meeting of the government held on 18th July, 2007

Press conference – 1st part

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the common meeting of the government and representatives of the Union of Towns and Villages of the Czech Republic. Let me welcome the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, I welcome the Chairman of the Union of Towns and Villages, Mr. Oldřich Vlasák, the First Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Jiří Čunek and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Miroslav Kalousek. I ask the Prime Minister for the introductory speech.

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I think it is good to say that not all things that have been done by the previous government were bad because the previous government, apart from other things, signed certain memorandum and an agreement on cooperation between the Government of the Czech Republic and the Union of Towns and Villages. I do not want to joke. Following our common negotiation at the congress of the Union of Town and Villages we decided to arrange common meeting of the government and the Union of Towns and Villages, its representatives. The Union of Towns and Villages prepared the thirteen-point agenda on problems that burden municipalities whether they concern finances, using of structural funds, other problems that have connection with other revenues of municipalities or problems concerning property of municipalities. The material was prepared very quickly from the side of the Union of Towns and Villages and it is very well structured; therefore we managed to debate it relatively very fast. The principal objective of the meeting was not to solve the problems but to identify them and to prepare professional solution based on negotiation of common organs or legislative solution following the legislative steps of the government. If I am to describe the individual problems, which we were solving, I will mention just their headings without going into details and speaking about their solution. Worth mentioning is the fact that we debated the budgetary allocation of taxes, which was expected by everybody, but we also debated possibility of integrated development of towns in connection with using funds of the EU. We discussed the block exception from public support; we discussed the infrastructure of the public transport and allocation of means to this sphere. We discussed the absorb capacity to use means from the EU in case of small villages, we discussed on performing transferred competences and contribution to this activity, which is carried out by villages and towns instead of the state. We debated the equal approach to subsidies for municipal facilities providing social service, we debated local taxes, administration fees, the European Charter of Local Municipalities and solution of problems concerning church property restitutions, ensuring of transfer of the rest historical property of municipalities, which was in the possession of the state so far and identification of the state property, which was transferable to towns and villages. Just from the list of problems you must know that there were a lot of issues there and we decided in case of each issue how to solve it; if it will be solved based on starting or existing discussion or based on legislative steps of the government. This is all from my side as an introduction. I am very content with this negotiation and I hope that representatives of the Union of Towns and Villages are content, as well. I firmly believe that we will be able to jointly solve number of those problems, which were identified today.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister. Now, the Chairman of the Union of Towns and Villages, Mr. Oldřich Vlasák has the floor.

Oldřich Vlasák, Chairman of the Union of Towns and Villages: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank for very correct, obliging and pointy-headed negotiation, in the course of which we followed the agenda prepared. I would like to say I am very glad that the government accepted obligations resulting from previous governments; it means that it wanted to communicate with us about our problems. As it results clearly from conclusions of today's meeting, work of three working groups will be started and we will solve those issues. As to the Act on Budgetary Allocation of Taxes, which was accelerated in the course of the adoption process, we have a lot of comments on it, of course. Some of them have already been incorporated in the act, the other we will be solved. It will concern in particular possible revenue decrease of towns and villages in 2009, 2010; there were certain possibilities outlined there how to solve this issue. As to the issue of the property, it means land and real estates, I think it is also the interest of the state, it is included in its Programme Declaration and I can say, on behalf of towns and villages that some blockages of lands make the town planning process impossible. In other way we are very interested in this issue. As to the using of structural funds, we can see one important way here, it is adoption of integrated approach and I must say that the final material from the side of the Ministry for Regional Development meets our expectations and I hope the government to support it. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Chairman of the Union of Towns and Villages, Mr. Oldřich Vlasák and now the 1st Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Jiří Čunek has the floor.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I will start with simpler matters where the consensus is in fact. The requirement for absorption capacity increase from the side of the Union of Towns and Villages was accepted by us, as in particular those villages under 500 inhabitants, it means small villages generally, do not have an army of officials who would prepare some bases and materials for grants and for the individual projects, so that municipalities could ask for money from the EU. Municipalities need more cooperation in the consultancy sphere. First of all we must admit that there are not such companies on the market, which could help mayors or municipalities, and second, it would cost a lot of money. An agreement was reached that we shall provide aid those mayors or municipalities from financial means for technical assistance, apart from other things. It will depend on agreements of the individual ministries of course, so that we would not establish a lot of consultancy centres. It is necessary to establish one centre, it is necessary for the solution to be feasible from the technical point of view and the centre accessible to those mayors. As to the block exception from the public support it is necessary to state what the problem is. In the EU there is a ban of public support in such cases where this public support could cause imbalance on the market, generally spoken. The public support can be granted up the amount of 200 thousand euros, which represents about 5,5 million crowns today, to one subject in three years and the support must not be higher. But there are spheres here, where we want to provide the support and where the support is being provided. It is for example the state programme of housing for social flats, where the support nowadays amounts to 550 thousand crowns; it means that construction of 10 flats would be supported and thus support of the respective municipalities would be suspended for thee years. We negotiated an exception in this case or the way how to solve the problem and it also concerned the individual parts, where towns and villages would like to support their facilities, so that they would be efficient for them; therefore they needed such exception. Then a matter was debated, about which the Prime Minister spoke, it concerned certain bonus for programmes; towns and villages which would have integrated plans prepared, it means they would have their development framework clearly described, and therefore such towns and villages would be favoured when asking for the individual programmes and subsidies; and the government would still debate it today.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the 1st Deputy Prime Minister and now the Minister of Finance, Mr. Miroslav Kalousek has the floor.

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: The Prime Minister recommended to me to postpone my speech until there is time for your question. I think it is reasonable, so that we would not flood you with over flow of information. I remain available, of course.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Now there is time for your questions. I just remind you that the regular press conference will be held after the finish of the meeting of the government. So, if there are questions concerning the common meeting of the government and the Union of Towns and Villages, you can ask them. If there are not any, thank you for the attention.

Press conference – 2nd part

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. I welcome the 1st Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Jiří Čunek and the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ivan Langer. I ask the 1st Deputy Prime Minister for his introductory speech.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Good afternoon. You have already been informed of the first part of the meeting; I mean the part that was held together with the Union of Towns and Villages. Then the government debated the following materials: the Bill amending Act on Criminal Record Register, Bill on Export and Import of Commodities that could be used for Execution of Death Penalty, Torture or Inhuman or degrading Treatment or Punishment, furthermore we debated the Bill amending the Act on Territorial Planning and Building Code, the Bill on Commencement of Activities of the Jihlava branch of the Regional Court in Brno, the Draft Government Order Stipulating Conditions of Use of Funds from the State Housing Development Fund, which I mention because you asked questions about it; but the debate on this point was suspended and it would be debated later on at one of the following meetings of the government. Furthermore it was debated the Draft Government Order amending the Government Order on Indicators and Permissible Pollution of Surface Waters and Waste Waters, the Proposal of deputies Zuzka Bebarová and others for promulgation of the Act amending the Act on Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of deputies. I just remark that the government did not approve this proposal. Then, Otakar Motejl arrived at the meeting of the government, it was working visit of course, who as the Ombudsman criticized the Ministry for Regional Development for nonobservance of certain deadlines, it concerned prolonged proceedings, and he criticized the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, as well. Perhaps, I could add some details on these points. Both points are connected with prolonged proceedings of natural persons of legal entities who ask for review proceedings. I have the graph here evidencing the growth, which is multiple in comparison with previous years. The same situation is at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs; we insisted on preserving the number of official who are engaged in this sphere, but unfortunately it was impossible. Then, there are some points that were postponed by the government, as they would have to debated later on – they are points no. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and the point no. 21, which concerned carrying out of biofuels controls before coming on the market, was approved including possible necessary legislative changes. The point no. 22, which was the Draft Concept of Training of Employees in Public Administration, was postponed. The point no. 23 was approved; it concerned procedures of solving the administrative capacity in using of structural funds. If I translate it, the problem is that we must ensure high-quality officials who would manage, for 10 years at a minimum, resources of the EU. Furthermore, the points no. 41 and no. 42 were approved. That is all for the present and now I leave time for your questions, if any.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you and now the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ivan Langer has the floor.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: Good afternoon. I will complete information of the Deputy Prime Minister by the fact that the Ministry of Interior had number of points on the agenda, which were debated. Those points that concerned deregulation reform, implementation of Regulatory Impacts Assessment were postponed until August meeting; they were not debated. Nevertheless, two points were debated, which the Ministry of Interior submitted. The first one concerned the transformation of Česká pošta, state-owned enterprise (Czech Post) to the form of a joint-stock company. I can state that the government approved this intention. Based on the material approved by the government a task was assigned to the Minister of Interior, as the founder of Česká pošta, state-owned enterprise, to perform transformation and to submit the transformation project by 31st December 2008. As a result, Česká pošta, state-owned enterprise will be during one year and a half transformed to a joint-stock company, completely owned by the state. From this reason, so called executive committee of the transformation was established, members of which will be representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Interior. From my view the most important point, which was approved by the government was the point that can be called – the government gave the green light to the digital broadcasting. The government approved the bill, which had been submitted by the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Culture; this bill has connection with the solution of the sphere of digital telecasting in the Czech Republic. I suppose that you know that now the development of the digital broadcasting is blocked and a solution of the situation had been sought for a long time. A complicated solution of a complicated situation had been sought and it was sought. I think, and I not only think, I am convinced that we sought optimal combination of solutions, which is advantageous for this state , which occurred, a solution, which something offers and something takes all the participants. It is a solution, which takes position of Česká televize (Czech Television) on the television market into consideration, solution which meets requirements of private entrepreneurs; it means TV Nova and TV Prima. It gives possibility to broadcast to those subjects, which had been granted licences that were cancelled following the decision of the Court and the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting. It also gives a chance for those who applied unsuccessfully or those who want to start television broadcasting. It is a solution that is advantageous for advertisers and in particular for ten million viewers. It does not mean anything else but setting the date of beginning of the full digital broadcasting and finishing analogous broadcasting starting from 10th October 2010; the date will be set down by a law. Česká televize gains a guarantee of the concessionaire fee at the amount of 135 crowns in the framework of this project. Česká televize can also keep half a percent of the broadcasting time on each of four its TV channels, which are expected, for TV advertising; there is a ban to cumulate the percentage. This solution enables to fund sufficiently the Cinematography Fund and we estimate that the Cinematography Fund will gain about 150 million crowns every year. There is a clear motivation for existing private entrepreneurs, as in case of breaching binding conditions for transition to digital broadcasting their signal transition fees will be higher. Nevertheless, if they keep the deadline, they will have a possibility to gain so called compensation licence. The same possibility of compensation licence is also available for those subjects, which were granted a licence but which did not have a possibility to broadcast. And also a principal, and I emphasize a principal change of the system of granting licences to new subjects and their entrance to the television market is introduced. Up to now it was the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting, which decided, based on licence proceedings which subject could broadcast and which subject could not. With regard to the fact that the digital broadcasting will sufficiently open space for broadcasting, the licence system is cancelled. The Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting will not decide who will broadcast and who will not broadcast. The licence granting system is changed just to registration. Everybody who wants will have chance to broadcast the moment when he agrees with the respective network provider on position and broadcasting conditions. This is a breakthrough, a principal breakthrough because the television market is liberalized and it will be liberalized. Any regulatory body will say – you may broadcast, you must not broadcast. The government attaches great importance to it and because of that reason it passes the bill immediately to the Chamber of Deputies and it will through sufficient number of deputies ask for convening an extraordinary session because of the first reading and the debate on the bill. We suppose the first reading to be done during the August session, sometimes between the second and the third reading of the governmental package; I mean the first third of the public finance reform. It is a breakthrough step from my view, which was taken by the government; it is a step, which solves the situation blocked in the sphere of television broadcasting, it is a step, which gives the green light to the digital broadcasting. And I think it is a step, which is undoubtedly positive news for ten million viewers in the Czech Republic.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Interior and now there is time for your questions.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: If you allow, I would make some comments on a material, which is not for ten million viewers but for ten million potential builders, as the government approved a small, really very small amendment to the Building Act, which concerned in particular in such spheres where great problem could occur. First, it concerns municipalities, as the government agrees with prolongation of the term until which territorial plans are to be submitted from existing five years up to nine years. There are two reasons for that. The first one concerns structural funds, or European subsidies, because in case some municipalities do not meet requirements of this law, not only because of some decision of theirs, their own sluggishness, but because of insufficient project capacities, capacities of authorized civil engineers, who would be able to carry out territorial planning documentation of the individual towns and villages in such a short time. It could cause delay in case of certain municipalities and it could cause stoppage of European funds using because of non-meeting of basic legal conditions; because they could not build, to say it simply. The small amendment also includes stipulations on fences, as in the existing law it was the decision on the location of structures required in case of fences up to 1,8 metre. But there is a requirement to have a building permission in case of fences over 1,8 metre. And because of this requirement, documentation carried out by an authorized person is necessary. In other words, citizens cannot build such fences, which is unusual in our conditions because lots of our citizens are able to manage it easily. This stipulation was removed. It means that fences above 1,8 meter can be built based on the decision on location of structures. They were two of the most significant changes, which were included in the bill. There were some small amendments there but they were not so significant.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: And now there is space for your questions.

Jiří Šťastný, ČTK: Did you debate the point, about which the Právo daily informed, that Minister Langer had proposed to cancel the Act on State Service?

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: The proposal was postponed; we jointed all the proposals that concerned the sphere of regulation and education into one package and the package was postponed to the August meeting. The reason was that the negotiation with the Union of Towns and Villages had been prolonged due to its extensive agenda and the government wanted to have sufficient time for the debate on all the points, which regarded as essential.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Česká televize.

Michaela Tučková, ČT: Good afternoon. I have a request, which does not concern today's meeting of the government but the negotiations on the radar. Relatively wide public debate was started, which had been initiated by actors, and also the President Klaus became involved in it. What do you think to the fact that such a group of people wants the referendum? And the second matter, Mr. Klvaňa, who is to negotiate on the radar is going round villages and persuades people that they can look forward to new water mains or roads in case of their approval to the radar. Is it a new strategy of the government or you do not know anything about it?

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: I regard as natural that different people have different opinions and I am following with great interest how laics argue who is right and I regard it as absolutely natural. Everybody has right to express his/her opinion; nevertheless, I would like to add that the real information campaign concerning the radar has not begun yet and that significant part of those discussions is held with minimum of information that people have. I would ask for lower rate of emotions, higher rate of peace and in particular for patience until people have information enough.

Michaela Tučková, ČT: And as to Mr. Klvaňa?

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: I am not informed of his going somewhere and saying – I promise water main to you. But I think that an issue of the radar has several dimensions. One of them is undoubtedly the fact that it is a significant investment and such investment should be accompanied by investments into infrastructure in the region in question. I regard it not only as natural, but even as our duty to construct something like that concurrently with the construction of the radar.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: as far as I am informed, he does not promise anything impossible. As Minister indicated it is like this: if you want to build a house, you must meet basic requirements to obtain the building permission. If the radar is to be constructed in a territory, which is absolutely without any infrastructure, there is nothing there, it is just forest, it is necessary to build normal standard flats, accommodation facilities there as there will be soldiers and service staff there. All that need sewerage, water mains, electricity and it must be led from somewhere to the destination. And that opportunity may these villages use.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question.

Ondřej Černý, Radio Česko: Good afternoon. I would like to ask Minister Langer – you spoke just on the television broadcasting, I suppose we are speaking on the Act no. 231, which concerns the radio and television broadcasting. I would like to ask, is it like this? And the second question – the change concerns the fact that there will be the system of registration. Will the spectrum be so wide that anybody who asks for it will be granted a licence; or will be certain limiting factors there? For example some fee, as it was in case of TV Nova and TV Prima, which had to pay a fee. How will it operate in the future?

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: At present the proposal solves just the sphere of television broadcasting. It is the Act on Radio and Television Broadcasting and such issues are chosen, which are regarded as dominant from the point of view of viewers and citizens and the proposal also responds to the situation when the time schedule of gradual transfer of advertising from Česká televize to the sphere of private televisions was cancelled and therefore there are two private television subjects here, which have dominant position on the advertising market, which tempt to misuse. I am convinced that, and this is the second part of my answer to the second part of your question, the offer of television programmes will be wide enough from the point of view of the individual multiplexes and new technologies, which will be used. I am also convinced that it is such a lucrative sphere of entrepreneurship that other operators will join the existing operators and they will be really able to offer space enough. All that philosophy is not based on the situation when a state body says: you may and you must not broadcast, but it is transferred to the registration level. The entire problem is based on an agreement of a subject that wants to broadcast with a subject that is to make broadcasting possible. A television operator with a network provider must reach an agreement. The Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting will just deal with regulation of the content of the broadcasting; if it is in compliance with the law and whether the operator breaches some regulations.

Ondřej Černý, Radio Česko: An additional question – the digitalization was blocked because of the action of TV Nova, which put those six applicants to their places. How will it be in this case? Those six applicants will be granted a licence. Is there an agreement that TV Nova and TV Prima will get certain number of channels in exchange for ceasing blocking the digitalization? Does the bill solve this issue?

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: It is stated in the bill: quite a new approach to granting access to the television market. All the licence proceedings, which were opened according to the previous law, were cancelled, and a new rule was established, it concerned the regulatory rule. Concurrently the bill expects the compensation licences. Compensation licences may be granted to such subjects, who must give up their analogous frequencies in favour of digital television broadcasting by 2010; and they are TV Nova and TV Prima. And there is clear obligation here - there is an obligatory technical plan of transition; in case you execute it, in case you switch off the analogous broadcasting, you will have right to compensation licence. For those six subjects, which had right to broadcast but the possibility was blocked; there is different form of the compensation licence. They have compensation licence by the time of full operation of the digital television broadcasting, the expected year is 2010. Then they have possibility to continue, if they reach an agreement with a provider, because then it will be a standard regime and all subjects will have equal position.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Interior. Is there any further question? There is not any, thank you for your attention.

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