The newly-elected lower house of Parliament has started debating the most important bill of the year – the state budget for 2018. Although the time-frame for its approval is tight, observers predict a tough battle ahead, not only as regards the allocation of funds but the size of next year’s state deficit.
The lower house of Parliament will meet on Tuesday to start debating the
2018 state budget. As approved by the outgoing government the budget has a
deficit of 50 billion crowns.
Deputy Finance Minister Alena Schillerová, who is to serve as finance minister in the new government, would like to see it approved without major changes, but observers predict a tough battle ahead. Deputies, including those of the outgoing coalition, are proposing shifts amounting to sixty billion crowns.
The lower house needs to approve the budget by the end of the year otherwise the country would have to start operating on a provisional budget.
The lower house of parliament’s budget committee has recommended that the
main lines of a 2018 budget be passed. The recommendation counts on an
overall deficit of 50 billion crowns.
The deficit target for this year is 60 billion crowns. That target was set by the outgoing government which tendered its resignation on November 29. The newly elected lower house is expected to deal with the budget proposal for next year when it sits on December 5.
This year they have a shortened timeframe of just a few weeks to try and make changes to the suggested flows of funds.
The government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats,
led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, tendered its resignation on
Wednesday after the constituent session of the newly-elected Chamber of
“We have moved the Czech Republic forward. We had four years of stability, continuous economic growth and a record-low poverty, Mr Sobotka said during his speech at the lower house. He also highlighted his government was only the third to complete a full four-year mandate.
The government of the Social Democrats, ANO, and the Christian Democrats, led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, which tendered its resignation on Wednesday, was not without its successes over the last four years, overseeing a growing economy. Its success did not help the senior Social Democrats, however, the biggest casualty in the October election, but ANO.
A meeting of the parliamentary Mandate and Immunity Committee on Tuesday
was cut short after two hours due to the plenum of the Chamber of Deputies,
failing to move forward on a police application for immunity of ANO leader
Andrej Babiš and deputy party leader Jaroslav Faltýnek to be lifted so
they can face fraud charges.
Committee member Helena Válková confirmed no progress had been made, while the newly elected head of the committee, Communist deputy Stanislav Grospič, said the body would return to the issue later in the day.
Lawmakers on Tuesday elected Petr Fiala, the head of the Civic Democrats
(the second-largest party in the lower house) as fifth and final deputy
speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.
He received 116 votes of 183 MPs present.
Fiala, who failed in the vote last week, was promised backing by the head of ANO’s deputies’ club Jaroslav Faltýnek. Tomio Okamura and the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party came out against.
The police has asked the lower house to strip deputy Bohuslav Svoboda,
former mayor of Prague, of his immunity, to enable further criminal
prosecution linked to the former mayor’s involvement in the city’s
Svoboda was earlier charged with misuse of public funds and violating the law on public tenders. The deal on the multi-purpose card was found to have been hugely disadvantageous for Prague City Hall.
Svoboda was served a suspended two year sentence in connection with the case, and appealed the verdict, before regaining parliamentary immunity in the elections.
The lower house has already received a similar request as regards ANO leader Andrej Babiš and his deputy chair Jaroslav Faltýnek, who were charged on suspicion of EU subsidy fraud earlier this year.
The newly-elected chairman of the lower house Radek Vondráček from the
ANO party has said he would appoint his predecessor in the post Social
Democrat Jan Hamáček first deputy chair. In a debate on Czech public
television, Mr. Vondráček also indicated that the foreign policy
portfolio in the lower house would not go to SPD’s Tomio Okamura. Mr.
Okamura’s party is strongly anti-EU and anti-migrant.
Radek Vondráček likewise expressed support for the election of Petr Fiala of the Civic Democrats deputy chair. He said his failure to win support earlier this week was the result of a communication failure.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said he will hand over his
government’s resignation on Wednesday, November 29th, i.e. after the
newly-elected Chamber of Deputies ends its consituting session. Prime
Minister Sobotka confirmed the date on Twitter on Friday.
President Miloš Zeman announced earlier that he would appoint ANO leader Andrej Babiš prime minister on December 6th, and would appoint his minority government on Friday, December 15th. The prime minister designate is expected to brief President Zeman on his cabinet line up next Tuesday.
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