Press Conferences

6. 12. 200618:17

Press conference of Prime Minister of the CR, Mirek Topolánek after the meeting of the government on Wednesday 6th December 2006

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Good late evening, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government and as an introduction I ask the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek for his introductory speech.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Good evening. I will try to select those issues, which I regard as interesting ones. We have approved several legal norms of an implementation character. I submitted today, together with the Chairman of the Office for Protection of Economic Competition, Martin Pecina, the Bill amending the Act on Protection of Economic Competition; this small amendment corrects certain drawbacks that had been pointed out by the European Commission. We have approved a bill, which has connection with the Regulation of the European Commission and the Council in the sphere of consumer protection. We have approved, and regarding this I will let time to the Deputy Prime Minister Petr Nečas, number of materials that concern wage terms of employees in various spheres, including Churches and soldiers. We have approved the minimum wage and number of other materials that has connection with this area. We debated series of deputies´ proposals; some of them with positive conclusion, some of them with negative conclusion. I think that a very interesting material was submitted by the Minister of Agriculture on the update of finance strategy concerning urban waste water; it is evident now that the date, which has been doubted by all those who understood the problem in times when it was debating, it is evident we will not be able to fulfil it. We debated great number of various economic agreements, among others the Protocol to the Agreement between the CR and the Russian Federation on the Avoidance of Double Taxation. And we also debated the monitoring system of structural funds pro the programme period 2007 – 2013. I think that a very interesting material was the National Allocation Plan of the CR, regarding which great debate took place. Minister Pospíšil asked me to draw your attention to the material that concerned increase of financial means of the heading 336 of the state budget, which concerns interference and use of mobile phones. And this programme and project will be implemented in prisons in the beginning of the next year. The financial means are earmarked for two years. I suppose that these were the main issues, in principle, and now I give the floor to the Deputy Prime Minister Petr Nečas, who will inform you about number of materials of his ministry that were approved at the meeting of the government today.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: As you have learned, it is the Deputy Prime Minister Nečas, who has the floor now.

Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Thank you. Nice midnight, ladies and gentlemen. As the Prime Minister has already said, the government approved series of proposals, government orders, which are above results all of authorization clauses of the new ill-fated Labour Code, which will be in force from January 1st, unless the Chamber of Deputies adopts different decision in the following days. One of consequences is also stipulation of wages of employees in public services and administration and stipulation, for example, of wages of soldiers, clergymen of churches and religious communities. And one of authorization clauses resulted in approval of Government Order on Minimum Wage. The government decided to accept a proposal of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, i.e. not to increase the minimum wage, because it was rising relatively markedly by 11% in the course of this year; that was an unusual increase of minimum wage. Only certain re-calculation has occurred and rounding-off of that re-calculation, as number of working days in the next year is higher than in this year. It means that the original minimum wage at the amount of 7955 crowns has been rounded off to 8000 crowns just because of the re-calculation of the hour wage and also because we think it would be good to stipulate the minimum wage as multiples of 100 crowns. It means that the minimum wage will be 8000 crowns from the January 1st of the next year. We are convinced that it is a right measure because, as I have already mentioned, the leap increase of the minimum wage occurred this year, which was motivated by the pre-election campaign and it was agreed with trade unions, in fact. We are convinced that, and also based on the yesterday's tripartite session, that if the increase of minimum wage continues, number of jobs would cease to exist in various sectors like in the textile industry, civil security services, in which labour costs form up to 85% of total costs in this sector of economy. Also jobs in the sector of social services would be jeopardized, in particular jobs of unskilled people who assert themselves worse on the labour market. So, that was the reason why the government, with regard to jobs in this segment of the labour market, decided not to increase the minimum wage. And we are convinced that this decision is correct. In addition to that, certain other matters have been stipulated, which had connection with wage issues in the public administration and with the respective catalogue of occupations and qualifications. Also the government order has been adopted, which concerned working time and rest time for employees transport, as this issue was stipulated in a special law so far, which was cancelled as a consequence of adoption of the new Labour Code. Therefore this issue must be stipulated in a government order. I must say that the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs very carefully assess those matter in close cooperation, because in case these issues are not solved in the government order, a collapse would occurred in number of transport areas, e.g. regular bus traffic, railway traffic, air traffic and it would result in great problem of our national air carrier. In other words, all those matters had to be solved in the respective government order, which was approved by the government today.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Ladies and gentlemen, your questions, please. The ČTK.

Aleš Sosnovský, ČTK: Good evening, I have several questions regarding today's issues. Did the government debate also the material on the sale of land in Prague –Ruzyně Airport and what was the result? Then, what will be government's requirements regarding the amount of emission tradable limits? And regarding those sewage plants - did the government debate to prolong the transition period from 2010 up to later date, or did it consider this matter? By what date does it have to invest in those sewage plants? Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I have already indicated it in my general introductory speech. Of course, we will certainly try it, but it does not depend only on us. But, as the delay in the programme of use of fund for sewage plants, has been caused from 80% by the European Union, we suppose that our arguments are strong enough that it will be possible to postpone the date. This is my answer to your last question. The answer to your first question – yes, the government debated this material, which was submitted by the Minister of Transport and charged him with carrying out of financial analysis, or analysis of limits from the point of view of possible expropriation in the course of sale of these pieces of land. Nevertheless, it would last several years and it would be purchased for appraisal value, anyway; therefore minister Řebíček was commissioned to carry out such an analysis and the analysis will be debated by the government. I think it is a good decision, because from the point of view of possible sale of the Letiště Praha (Prague Airport) or privatization of Letiště Praha, it may become apparent that fast purchase of these pieces of land for price, which would be near the appraisal value after those four years, would be more effective; it is really a matter of financial analysis. Concerning further question – we debated the National Allocation Plan and perhaps it was the longest debate of all the points of the agenda. I would say we debated it for about three quarters of an hour according to my estimate. It concerned determination of such a number of tradable emission limits per year, which would be possible defend against the European Commission, so that there would be reservoir of arguments, which would result from comment procedure, which would result from the calculation methodology, which would result from GDP in the following five years, which would result of course from number of tradable emission limits in the past period. Finally, after a very long debate, and I would say that it was not unanimous vote, majority of votes was finally for tradable emission limits at the amount of 101,9 million tons per year, which was the original proposal that had been consulted with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Environment. The practice of the European Commission in the course of the up to now negotiations was very different. The Great Britain proposed a plan, which was not very ambitious and it was approved. Slovakia was cut down by 25%, but in spite of this fact it reached higher number of tradable emission limits in comparison with the past period. It was not possible to estimate unambiguously what amount of tradable emission limits and based on what methodology the European Commission would allocate and therefore we decided to propose those 101,9 million tons per year. It was discussion very complicated and highly professional. I can assure you that those arguments were really very matter-of-fact and professional. I suppose I answered it in a detailed manner.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Yes, televize Prima.

Jiří Daníček, televize Prima: Good evening. I want to ask a question, you were also to define what the social housing is. What is the result, or does any restriction exist there, which would concern flats less than 90m2?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I was fascinated by the fact that media had already published that we had decided on this issue. The material, the debate on it, was suspended again today. We had an analysis made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, which would analyse this state in more detailed manner. The original intention, as it was proposed by the Minister of Finance, was advantageous for the Czech Republic and it would be evidently promoted by majority of citizens; nevertheless we must consider this issue in the context of rules of the EU in the context of what is usual, not what is possible. Therefore, we did not conluded that material, we will debate it next week. We have enough time, anyway, because we are not pressed to decide just in this moment. It was not approved, it was suspended. Or rather, more exactly, the submitter has withdrawn the material from the agenda, this is the exact formulation.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Further questions, please.

Ondřej Černý, Radiožurnál: I would like to know whether you debated the material of deputies of the ODS and the Green party regarding state school-leaving examinations. What was your decision and what was the reason of your attitude to this?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Well, owing to the fact that we have not proposed it for the first time, I mean our deputies, at least, the decision was very simple. The recommendation of the Minister of Education and Physical Training was quite unambiguous and we agreed with postponement of the proposal by two years. We regard this system as not to be carefully worked out. Moreover, our reservation of course is that children, who entered the study in the old regime, are to pass their school-leaving examinations now, they would have to pass the state school-leaving examinations, but the decision was taken in the course of their study. We regard school-leaving examinations as not well prepared; we do not regard the whole system to be prepared in such a way, so that children might pass their school leaving examination starting from the next year. It is a question whether the proposal will be passed by the Parliament, I am not willing to anticipate, but the decision was unambiguous, anyway.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Further questions, please.

Journalist, Právo daily: One more question regarding Ruzyně, regarding purchase of pieces of land. Has not been determined any concrete date, by which the agreement with Penta is to be concluded, so that no expropriation occurs, because the runway should have been originally started to be built in the next year?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I do not have the material here. The date was certainly determined with regard to the fact that the government governs in rather hectic manner, it has shortened mandate and therefore the time is not very long. The possibility of expropriation is an extreme possibility, based on our law. It must always be based on appraisal value and this analysis concerns just this case, as it was not bound with any other business case. I suppose we will try to purchase these pieces of land, so that Letiště Praha enter the privatization that is being prepared with clear property relations, as the possible construction of the second parallel takeoff and landing runway would raise the property itself and brings more chances for higher privatization revenue. Nevertheless, if we consider construction of the runway in the next year, I regard this project, and it is my personal opinion, as too ambitious, because some of European airports, this is experience from Europe, serve for higher number of passengers per one runway, than in the case of Ruzyně today. And it is a question, whether from the time point of view, the situation is as urgent that the construction should be started next year. I think that this decision is far from being definite. Nevertheless, it is my personal opinion. It is true that we will prepare Letiště Praha definitely to a transfer to joint stock company, state joint stock company, by half of the next year, so that nothing hamper privatization of this state property using standard methods.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Further question, please. Česká televize.

Kateřina Eliášová, Česká televize: One more question regarding those interference equipment in prisons. By what amount will the financial means be increased? And what will be the total amount?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: It will be by 50 million crowns in total. It will be by 16 million crowns in the next year and the rest in further year; it is an extraordinary project for which the minister Pospíšil has asked. Finally, following the agreement with the Ministry of Finance, the amount was divided and we regard this project to be very praiseworthy, project which will be implemented immediately in the beginning of the next year. 50 million crowns in total for two years.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Are there any further questions, please? If it is not so, I thank you, ladies and gentlemen. The government of the Czech Republic appreciates that you have devoted your time to it in this late hours.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Thank you. Nice rest of the morning.