Press Conferences

10. 7. 2008 14:02

Press Conference Held on the Occasion of the Visit of the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek at the Ministry of Industry and Trade on 10th July 2008

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, the Prime Minister is on his tour around ministries, and so I welcome him and I also welcome the Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Martin Říman. I give the floor to the Prime Minister.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Good morning. As an introduction, I should say that I presented my intention to visit all the ministries, to assess their activities, to debate what is ahead of us what we should push through, to check the concrete projects. I am beginning at the Ministry of Industry and Trade. I have special feelings regarding that building, as I had been preparing for the position of the Minister of Industry and Trade for several years, and therefore I rather envy Mr. Říman that building; it is really very nice and it has a long history. I think that I know about the activities of the ministry a lot because of my former profession, and that is why I was very well prepared.

If I am to assess the activities of the ministry and the activities of the Minister, then I express my great satisfaction especially in case of this ministry, even though I decided not to mark any of them. This ministry fulfil very well such horizontal, inter-ministerial tasks, whether they concern reduction of the administrative burden, which sphere is administered by the ministry and the ministry exert pressure to other ministries to reduce administration burden, or it concerns reduction of unnecessary assets of this ministry, I mean various buildings and such like; the action aimed at relocation of buildings has already been commented by media and it is in its final stage. Perhaps we will manage to accomplish this pilot project. Further problem, which is solved by the ministry concerns reduction of number of employees connected with various institutions receiving contribution from the state budget or institutions directly controlled my the ministry; it also concerns their mergers, dissolution, implementation of simpler procedures aimed at more effective paperwork. This ministry is one of the best ministries in this respect.

I have prepared a great number of questions to Mr. Minister, because in the framework of the Programme Declaration of the Government, in the framework of the coalition agreement, there were about 11 programme goals; three of them were achieved, three of them were submitted to the government, four of them were in progress and the only one was delayed we held a discussion on it as well. It concerned the issue of renewable resources and I gave the ministry a task to make an analysis which would concern various supports in the sphere of renewable resources, whether I mean tax relieves, subventions, obligatory purchase, guaranteed prices, trading with emission limits, and I asked the ministry to submit an analysis which would be aimed at simplification of the entire system of supports, so that we would be able to meet binding targets of the EU that we had undertook to meet. I also want to work more on the system of externalities, and I do not mean only fossil fuels, but also renewable energy resources, which is a matter that I will require. As to spheres which are being solved by the ministry at present, I am very content with the support of the business environment, with economic diplomacy in the framework of foreign trade and I would say that materials, which I had prepared - it means summary of all the activities of the ministry, show that this is the strength of the ministry. The amendment to the Trade Act, which has not been noticed in fact, is an absolute breakthrough. As to this sphere, it is the most visible change since the Trade Act was adopted in 1990´. Reduction of the number of unqualified trades from 125 to 1 and lots of other factors is a great success of the ministry and I am very content.

We discussed the operational programme, which is administered by the ministry, I mean the programme Enterprise and Innovation, and we also discussed the CzechInvest and standardization of this institution, its readiness to draw funds as far as priorities of the business area are concerned. It means that 11 invitations to draw subsidies and 3 invitations to draw funds from credit and guarantee programmes were called. We also debated drawing from structural funds for period 2004-2006 and finishing of that drawing. We also touch on investment incentives and I think that the ministry expressed its interest in withdrawal of the existing investment incentives and to concentrate on products with higher added value and to such spheres which deserve it.

I have already spoken about the removal and the CzechInvest. As to the "green cards", they are under the administration of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and now they are debated in the Chamber of Deputies. The debate is now between the first and the second reading. They should be dealt with also at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which is a cooperating ministry; I regard it as very important. For quite a long time we were discussing the energy security with regard to all its aspects. This issue concerns one of spheres of the ministry, which is energy industry, energy security, a new or updated state energy conception, the deadline of which is the end of the year, if I am not mistaken. We debated oil reserves, uranium mining, we discussed gas, coal, and we discussed of course the nuclear energy with regard to the topical issues of the expert and public discussion. And the last issue, which I have not remembered so far, concerns our presidency of the EU, our role during that presidency, the role of the ministry which will be engaged in four great events; one of discussions which will be part of both the French and the Czech presidency concerns the climatic-energy package which will be moderating by us and we will moderate the discussion just in the first half of the next year. In the conclusion I will try to evaluate the activities of the ministry for one year and a half in the second cabinet of Mirek Topolánek and I would like to say that I am content with work of the ministry and with the Minister Říman.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister and now the Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Martin Říman has the floor.

Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen I would like to briefly say a few words on information given to the Prime Minister, on what is ahead of us whether the legislative or non-legislative tasks are concerned. As to the legislative tasks, we regard as the mot important two legal norms; the first one is the great amendment to the Energy Act which has been approved by the government and in September the debate in the Chamber of Deputies will begin. It is a very extensive legal norm and apart from traditional implementation of the EU directives, its purpose is to simplify business activities in the sphere of energy.

And the second important amendment, perhaps even more extensive, is the implementation of the European directive on services; it is the amendment to about 40 existing laws, and it will markedly simplify business activities, this time not only in the Czech Republic but also in the entire EU. Apart from smaller legislative tasks for example the amendments to the Act on Military Material Trading and such like, the two norms were the most important legislative tasks.

As to non-legislative tasks, they concern rather accomplishment of actions which are now being in progress, whether I mean the privatization of six test institutes, finalization of liquidation of some companies; in time of my coming to the ministry, there were about 130 of companies which had been put in liquidation. The task of the ministry is to reduce this number to 25. Those 25 companies cannot be liquidated for the present because there are some legal actions there. Furthermore, we want to finish the removal of offices and we intend to continue in reduction of number of institutions receiving contributions from the state budget, which are controlled by the ministry. We dissolved two institutions last year and we will dissolve two institutions this year; the Testcom in now in the half of the year and the Czech Normalization Institute by the end of the year. It is connected with another non-legislative task and it is the marked simplification and 50% price reduction in the area of publishing of norms. We also want to continue in the reduction of the administrative burden of entrepreneurs. We want to meet our commitment to reduce it by 20% by the end of 2010.

Of course, there are lots of tasks in the sphere of mining industry, energy industry. It seems that one of the greatest environmental burden in our republic, lagoons in Ostrava, are started to be solved after several years. We will work out a new conception of the energy industry by the end of the year. And one of the most important tasks which are to be finished by the end of the year is termination of drawing of financial means from the old operational programme Industry and Enterprise. We have drawn 73% of those allocated 9 billion crowns for the present, and we expect to draw 95%. It is necessary to point out that now it does not depend on our ministry, it rather depends on entrepreneurs. Concurrently, we will be drawing several billion crowns from the new operational programme.

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

Jana Mlčochová, Reuters: Good afternoon, I would like to ask the Prime Minister a question – you have mentioned the discussion on the climatic-energy package, witch will be one of the topical issues of the Czech presidency of the EU. I would be interested in some more concrete points or thesis, which will be pushed through by the Czech Republic.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: The Czech Republic will push through such issues, which are within the mandate of the government. As it was approved by the government, you have a possibility to read it several times; there is not any change in this respect. We want to adhere to what we had undertook to do in the past period and we have lots of problems which concern rather starting-up of actions relating to plants with high consumption of energy. We are not alone in such a situation; most new countries face similar problems and it is not possible to transfer those plants countries in which the EU regulations and directives are not applied. It would not be a solution from the global point of view, as those emissions would arise beyond frontiers of the EU without that number of jobs and added value which are usual in case of production here. It means that one problem is being solved and we want the EU to take these energy intensive plants into consideration through increased number of tradable emission permits or through a different measure, which would enable them to survive without environmental consequences.

As the government had not a strong mandate regarding starting-up of actions for energy industry, we also in this case belong among countries which have to invest huge financial means just to renovation of the energy production; it concerns especially the retrofit and construction of new sources in the North Bohemia. If we withdraw means which would not be allocated back to the energy industry, it would mean great problems. We are debating a reference date, date of the start of the using such a principle. I think it is also a great issue. Nevertheless, if I say that we will moderate the discussion, it is necessary to realize that the crucial discussion will be held in the framework of the French presidency. The ambition of the President Sarkozy is to finalize those debates on the climatic-energy package; I am afraid of the fact that he will not be able to manage it and therefore I am of the opinion that at least implementation, if not moderating the discussion, will be taking place during our presidency.

Keblůšek, TV Nova: First, I would like to ask Mr. Minister Říman whether today's visit was an evaluating visit; it means – were you afraid in the morning of what was ahead of you? What are your feelings like now, after that appraisal? And then, I still have a question to the Prime Minister, who said he would not mark; but still, could he mark it?

Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: Well, if a control is done in a school, people are always nervous. So, we were nervous, but now it is better.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I am not in favour of marking, not even at school. I prefer explicit tests expressing successfulness rate of an examinant. As to the verbal evaluation, I have already done it. When I chose this ministry as the first one, I knew that most of those tasks and expectations which I rather as Mirek Topolánek than the Prime Minister had, had been fulfilled and in case they were not fulfilled, we mentioned it. Nowhere near all tasks are finished, approved and implemented, and therefore the final school report will be issued by voters during elections and that is why I myself cannot issue it.

Hruška, TV Prima: Good morning, I have a question to Mr. Minister. Are you successful in reduction of number of employees at your ministry?

Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: It is fulfilled without problem; we exceed the planned targets. The reduction will not by 3% but by % this year.

Hruška, TV Prima: How many will it be, expressed in figures?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: It rather differs if you take only the ministry into consideration or the ministry including other institutions of its sphere. I will read it for you. Ministry including other institutions had 2200 employees as of 31st December 2007; this figure will be reduced down to 2033 as of 1st January 2009. The reduction at the ministry will be from 830 to 787 employees. These are figures relating to reduction of employees in those two years. I do not think that the targets themselves are important; the problem connected with reduction of paperwork which we regard as important, it is connected with dissolution of institutions receiving contributions from the state budget, and other directly controlled institutions and their paperwork. Our target is not to sack people, our objective is to detect unnecessary activities or activities which do not have priority, and to transfer them to the business sphere or to wind up them. And those people are transferred to similar types of private sector institutions or they will leave the sector of the ministry.

Kopecký, Mf Dnes: Mr. Minister, I would like to ask in what stage is that action aimed at removal of offices. What is really possible to manage in this election period? And a question to the Prime Minister which concerns the political development in the Green Party – is it possible for the government to make changes in the Programme Declaration, in particular in passages concerning the nuclear energy or limits of coal mining, in connection with that development?

Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: As to the removal, the government approved the respective intention two years ago. In summer months the technical specification will be made. It will concern number of offices which we will need, space for parking, simply architectonic and technical specification. It is not simple, as several institutions with different habits are to be placed in a single building. And I am to submit to the government definite conditions for tender by 31st October. The tender will be held in autumn and spring and the deadline for the removal should be as of 3rd December 2011 at the latest. It means that it will depend on a result of the tender, if it will be old building ready for removal, half-ready building or completely new building. Speediness is not the highest priority for us.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I did not notice any greater turbulence in the Green Party than those which took place one week ago, and so I do not know why you have a feeling that the situation is worse there. We will not change the Programme Declaration on no account, which means that we will not change the environmental limits. I am of the opinion that is it apparent that at Bílina, in case of North-Bohemian mines, the problem does not concern breakthrough of some limits but it concerns only a straight line which was drawn in an office. It is a technological compensation of coal limits, which cannot be regarded as a breakthrough, because on the contrary, certain extensive environmental measures are being taken there and I think that no minister, no ministry can see any problem in it. As to the energy industry, we insist on fulfilling tasks that we had undertook to fulfil; that in this election period we will not implement, plan, build a new block. But it has no connection with the activities of the ČEZ in this matter, because we need to know alternatives, influences of constructions in the individual areas on environment. In this respect out obligation remains and I will stand up for it.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, is there any further question? Thank you and we will be seeing you at the Ministry of Interior.

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