Press Conferences

1. 11. 2006 11:18

Press conference of Prime Minister of the CR Mirek Topolánek after the meeting of the government on Wednesday 1st November 2006

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today's press conference after the meeting of the government. I welcome the Prime Minister Mr. Mirek Topolánek, and I also welcome the Deputy Prime Minister Petr Nečas and the Minister of Finance, Vlastimil Tlustý. I ask the Prime Minister for his introductory speech.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Thank you. I will start from the end, I suppose I will start by what you are the most interested in. The last issue, which was debated at today's meeting of the government, was of course submission of resignation. In compliance with the Article 73, clause 2 of the Constitution we submitted our resignation, as confidence had not been given to the government in the Chamber of Deputies, and I will submit the resignation in the hands of the President at the Prague castle at 13,30 o'clock. That was introductory information. The second issue concerns the Report on meeting of the State Budget in the first half of this year and Minister Tlustý is going to inform you in a more detailed manner. I would introduce it by using just one sentence – they were lying in the morning, they were lying at noon, they were lying in the evening. Further material that we debated and the debate of which was suspended is a choice of scenario of the introduction of the Euro, and this issue deserves certain comments. At one of the following meeting of the government, although it will be the government after submission of resignation but it will have responsibility for range of tasks, we will debate this material again. This material contents a right proposal of scenario for introduction of the Euro using a one-shot and complex solution. Nevertheless, the debate must respect a question whether it is actually possible, and when, to introduce the Euro, and whether it is possible for the government, the Parliament and the ČNB (Czech national Bank) to reach an agreement on it. In connection with this package of European issues, we will debate the National Reference Plan for using structural funds, which is also prepared for some of future governments just in the framework of these European issues. And we have already signed a tendency to shift some potential means from certain operational programmes of ministries to strengthen infrastructure and usage of funds in the infrastructure part of our reference framework. And the third issue, and it is issue about which I would like to speak above all, is the Czech presidency. We regard any delay concerning this matter, regardless turbulences on the Czech political scene, as unacceptable and therefore, in the framework of that package, we will discuss institutional, financial and other frameworks of the Czech presidency. In the end we decided that the government would not nominate a state secretary or a national coordinator or a government representative. And I mean by this that we have not reached a conclusion as to the title, in spite of the fact that it is not important, and we will have a proposal prepared for the next government before our leaving, proposal for the Czech presidency and its preparation, which will have been debated and approved by the government. Perhaps, to mention further interesting issues, which we debated today – we charged the Minister of Informatics Ivan Langer to prepare a material for the next meeting of the government, by means of which we want to solve the problem that all the ministers at all ministries have to face, and it is a very strange way of concluding contracts in the sphere of ICT, i.e. information and computer technologies. In the framework of the e-Government, we would like to solve this problem and the material that we approved today leads to the fast implementation of the e-Government. As to an issue that you might be interested in, it is of course the transfer of financial means at the amount of 48 million crowns to remove damage in the national park of Krkonoše, which we debated and approved today. This is all from my side for the present and I ask my colleagues to add information.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Now I give the floor to the Minister of Finance, Vlastimil Tlustý, who will inform you on the meeting of the state budget.

Vlastimil Tlustý, Minister of Finance: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. In the submitted Report on Meeting of the State Budget in this year, i.e. in 2006, is stated that in comparison with the approved deficit of the state budget at the amount of 74,4 billion crowns, it is possible to expect the deficit amounted to 90 billion crowns. The difference of about 15 billion crowns is a result of the following. An increase of expenditures occurred for one thing as a result of payment of the government liability to the credit of the ČNB (Czech National Bank), and also because of increased expenditures for pensions. The effect is – increased expenditures by 25 billion crowns. Contrary to this report that was debated today and which was based on the prognosis that the Ministry of Finance made in June of this year, i.e. approximately in the time of elections, an increase of tax revenue was expected by 10 billion crowns. The balance resulted from this is – 74 billion crowns originally expected, higher expenditures by 25 billion crowns, higher revenue by10 billion crowns and that is why those 90 billion crowns. But now the second part of the statement, and I will quote word for word: According to the prognosis of tax sections of the Ministry of Finance, it is not possible to expect exceeding of tax revenue of the state budget by those 10 billion crowns, but on the contrary it is necessary to expect that it will be lower by 2,5 billion crowns. If we add these consequences to the amount that was mentioned a minute ago, the amount of 90 billion crowns, then, and it is the last sentence of my speech, the final deficit of the state budget in this year may exceed the amount of 1000 billion crowns.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Just to add information, corrected results of the increase of the ratio of the deficit to the GDP to 3,6% show that fulfilment of the convergence criteria and their loud announcement was just done based on the proverb "The wish is the father of the thought".

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Now there is time for the introductory speech of the deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Social affairs, Petr Nečas.

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Good afternoon, I just add information so that you could realize in what condition the state finances are. I would like to point out that the highest deficit so far was 109 billion crowns in 2003. If we take into consideration that revised data of the Czech Statistical Office show that the deficit in the last year exceeded 100 billion crowns, that data of the Ministry of Finance show that the deficit of this year will also probably exceed 100 billion crowns and that the last government had prepared the budget, which according to the ESO methodology and according to the Act on Budgetary Rules will also exceed 100 billion crowns next year, it is shown that the spiral of a deficit financing has occurred, which was initiated by the government of Jiří Paroubek. It means that deficits of public finances are out of control in fact; because we must include to those deficits for example mandatory expenditures, e.g. pension expenditures, which cause increase of deficits. And it is evident that any government will have to adopt clear reform measures in the sphere of public finances, which would cover tax area, expenditure area, social system area and pension reform. In other words, whatever government is here in the following months and years, if it wants to act with full responsibility, it will have to take principal reform measures, because, and I repeat it again the basic statement: deficits of public finances, owing to the actions of previous government, are out of control and have been started to exceed the amount of 100 billion crowns for three years in succession.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Ladies and gentlemen, now there is time for your questions. Helena Šulcová, televize Prima.

Helena Šulcová, televize Prima: Good afternoon, excuse me that my question will not concern today's meeting of the government, but Mr. Doležel, Head of the Office of the Government of social democratic governments has been arrested. I wonder, as it had connection with using money of the EU, if a measure was taken to prevent such crimes. And Mr. Paroubek said regarding this matter that it was a fault of an individual, not of the ČSSD and he disassociated himself from those people. I wonder what your opinion is.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I will just repeat a sentence that I say very often – that this reason and many other reasons make me to my conviction that Jiří Paroubek should not return to the Straka Academy (the seat of the government). That was the sentence number one. I have no detailed information about this matter; I do not think that it is a matter of an individual but that it is the tip of the iceberg. And the third sentence – we have taken range of measures in the framework of first actions of this government regarding simplification of usage of European money and from the point of view of better control; nevertheless, you yourself must know that during this month, or during two months, we have not been able to do a fundamental system change, which would bar such steps. Nevertheless, I am very glad that this corruption action has been proved and I will be very glad if all the other lapses will be proved, that had rested here as the Pandora's Box of the previous government.

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: I would add information on the only one fact – it is nice that Mr. Paroubek disassociates himself from Mr. Doležel, but it is necessary to remind that Mr. Doležel was his man Friday and that it had to be a person who had to enjoy a great deal of confidence from the side of Mr. Paroubek, because he would not have sent him for such an important mission as it was for example negotiation with the Polish Prime Minister regarding the privatization of the Unipetrol. In other words, very close workmate and intimate workmate of Mr. Jiří Paroubek has been arrested.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Another question of Mrs. Šulcová. And then, Mr. Takáč raised his hand.

Helena Šulcová, televize Prima: Another question for the Minister of Finance. A court has granted the emergency ruling regarding the toll system on our motorways. I wonder if you have any idea how much it will cost if it is not started in the planned date.

Vlastimil Tlustý, Minister of Finance: I can just say that toll system revenues were part of revenues of the state budget.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I add that the judgement does not go against the decision of the Ministry of Transport, but it concerns just relatively small mistake in the course of formulation of the second-instance decision of the Office for the Protection of Competition. These proceedings may unfortunately take several years and there is a threat here that, apart from absence of the toll, investments that were spent for the system will be lost and that billions of crowns, which have been spent, will be missing for maintenance, repairs and development. I firmly hope that the decision on the formal mistake in the course of making the decision of the Office for the Protection of Competition is not definite one and that courts of further instances will make different decision. But we cannot, of course, interfere into this matter.

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: I cannot help to make a footnote. Those of us who were spending hours waiting in many-kilometre queues in times when those gates were erected, they would be very angry in case the action was cancelled.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Do you have any other question? So, Mr. Takáč.

Daniel Takáč, ČT: Good afternoon. I would ask the first question. I would revert to Mr. Doležel. My question is for the Prime Minister. Have you ordered the Minister for Regional Development to make any special controls in his office? Were there more such cases? That was the first question. And the second question, there occurred a speculation whether there had been a pressure from your side to reveal this issue before elections that would be held the next week and the next but one week. Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I admit that I had not any inkling that such proceedings were running; and it is a good thing, it is not a matter of the Prime Minister, and it is a matter of investigative, prosecuting and adjudicating bodies. I have just information that this matter has been investigating for half a year, at least. So, it was initiated in the times of the previous government, of course. As to the measure, that was not only the Minister for Regional Development who was ordered to take control measures, but this order concerns all ministries and it was issued immediately after our commencement of governance. It concerns not only proposed operational programmes but also the ways of usage. And, I have said it in the introduction speech, on the one hand to simplify, not to complicate usage of funds within the controlling required by the European Commission, and on the other hand to put an accent on the controlling. I think that the matter is of a system character and that we will, during the time we have the mandate, do our best to simplify those parameters, which have influence on fund usage, so that the usage would be simpler, more transparent and more controllable.

Daniel Takáč, ČT: Will it have any influence on the elections in your opinion?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I do not think that people regard this as a problem, because the previous government was accompanied by a lot of scandals, about five or seven per month, therefore I do not think that it will have influence on the elections. We have any chance to affect the investigation on no account.

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: The ČSSD has become a synonym for corruption and similar scandals and therefore I doubt that the public will notice it.

Vlastimil Tlustý, Minister of Finance: I would like to protest against the hypothetical question, by means of which you are trying to evoke a variant of possible speed-up of the investigation; I want to state, that I learned about this step from media and my colleagues as well. If you try to present one hypothesis, I would like to know why you do not try to present other hypothesis on obstruction in the past.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: In the back Mr. Kopecký raised his hand.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: The hypothesis is, to repeat words of my colleague, whether somebody obstructed the investigation.

Veronika Kročáková, televize Nova: I would have a question for the Prime Minister. Mr. Paroubek apologized to the Czech public. Do you think he means it frankly? And do you think that the top politicians knew about the corruption affair?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I do not know how long the apology did take, but if Mr. Paroubek were to apologize for all he had caused or said, the press conference would have lasted until the evening.

Veronika Kročáková, televize Nova: Do you think that the closest workmates knew about it?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I really do not know.

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: I can just repeat my statement that Mr. Doležel was the man Friday of Mr. Paroubek, he was his closest workmates, very intimate workmate, or he would not have been commissioned by such a delicate mission as was the negotiation with the Prime Minister of the Polish government on privatization of Unipetrol.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Mr. Kopecký from Mladá Fronta Dnes has the floor.

Josef Kopecký, MfD: Good afternoon, I would like to ask a question regarding one matter. The President Václav Klaus said yesterday that it would be possible to debate on appointment of a caretaker government, which would not have to ask the Chamber of Deputies for confidence. Would you support such amendment of the Constitution? And another question, when will the bill, regarding decrease of number of deputies to199, be submitted to the Parliament?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Regarding your first question. I am hearing this for the first time; I regard this First-Republic step, not the vote of confidence, but to appoint a caretaker government as a great fault of the First Republic and I do not think we will revert to it any more. This is my answer number one. All that myth concerning a caretaker government in our country is caused, of course, by this faulty concept, or faulty expectations of people who think that a caretaker government need not gain confidence. I suppose that the model, which is in our Constitution, in the Czech Constitution, which require for every government to gain confidence, it leads to such solutions that there always must exist political arrangement that gives confidence to a government and such government cannot exist without control of the Parliament as it was during the First Republic in case of caretaker government. This is my first answer. As to the second question, I think that it is a simple amendment and we are going to prepare it before our leaving. I suppose I can announce preparation of further law, as that matter will be debated concurrently; it concerns preparation of a law, either by means of deputies´ motion or by the government, which would repeat the scenario of the year 1998, i.e. shortening of the mandate of the Chamber of Deputies. I would be glad if these norms will be prepared in the Chamber of Deputies, one of those scenarios will be realized following consensus of political parties and following agreement on early election. And the scenario regarding number of deputies, it has as early as now relatively broad support of all political subjects, and therefore it will not be a problem to pass it in both chambers.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Mr. Takáč raised his hand, and then Mr. Kopecký will have the floor.

Daniel Takáč, ČT: Takáč once more, good afternoon. I would like to develop the idea, which the Minister of Finance Tlustý indicated here, whether somebody obstructed the investigation, and to re-formulate my question – do you have information that anybody obstructed investigation into this matter?

Vlastimil Tlustý, Minister of Finance: I have no information about it but because I exclude that somebody accelerated it, then I suppose both two questions to be relevant.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Media are always better informed than politicians.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Mr. Kopecký has the floor.

Josef Kopecký, MfD: I would have a question to complete information on shortening of the election period of the Chamber of Deputies. Is it possible, in your opinion, that such a law would be adopted and that no other government would be appointed and you as the government after resignation would govern until the early election under the condition of polling 120 votes in the Chamber of Deputies and constitutional majority in the Senate?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: You are gambling with an incredible speculation. I have not been considering it. I will start to consider it after the press conference. I did not have any idea that such an idea may exist. Thank you for that idea.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Are there further questions, please?

Journalist, Právo daily: I would like to ask about the Summary Evaluation Report on the 2006 Spring Foods and the Report on the Environment. Have you adopted a resolution in this sense, for example regarding construction of new dams?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: These reports are just reports because they are only approved. As to the annual Report on the Environment, I recommended to the Minister of Finance, and he accepted it, to publish a managerial summary of basic information, which state rather stagnation, not improvement of the environment not only on web sites but also in a kind of publication. The government approved information on spring floods and I think that the government has done a lot by increasing the state budget for the next year just in the sphere of flood measures by 500 million crowns. That is my answer.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press section: Ladies and gentlemen, are there any other questions? If there are not any, thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Nice day and good-bye.

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