The 2019 draft budget is to focus on investment, increase of public sector salaries and the raising of pensioners’ living standards, Finance Minister Alena Schillerová said after it won government approval on Wednesday. The budget proposal counts on a CZK 40 billion deficit; ten billion less than originally planned by the Ministry of Finance.
The Social Democrats are to nominate Tomáš Petříček for the post of
foreign minister, Czech Television reported. The junior party in the
coalition government had previously put forward Miroslav Poche for the
position but President Miloš Zeman refused to appoint him.
The head of the Social Democrats, Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček, is currently serving as the country’s diplomatic chief in a caretaker capacity. Mr. Petříček is at present deputy minister of foreign affairs.
Government officials, employers and trade union leaders on Friday approved
the priorities outlined in the government’s draft budget for 2019.
The Finance Ministry has proposed a state budget with a 40 billion crown deficit, that envisages a hike in public sector wages, higher pensions and more money for investments.
The government aims to scrap 1300 jobs in public administration, which should save around 3.4 billion crowns.
The centrist Ano party and its junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, have reached a framework agreement on increasing public sector salaries. While the specifics have not yet been made public, the coalition has agreed on a differentiated range of salary increases of about 8 per cent on average, with workers who now earn the least set to get the biggest raises.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO says he hopes Jan Hamáček of
coalition partners the Social Democrats resolves the situation at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs within two months at the latest. He made the
comment in an interview for Právo. At present Mr. Hamáček, who is
minister of the interior, is also serving as foreign minister in a
temporary capacity. The situation came about after President Miloš Zeman
refused the Social Democrats’ candidate for foreign policy chief,
Mr. Babiš said he expected the Social Democrats to put forward a different nominee. The prime minister said the current situation had to end as the Czech Republic would be celebrating the centenary of Czechoslovakia at the UN General Assembly, which begins in the last week of September.
The shortcomings in Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar’s university thesis
cannot be regarded as plagiarism, Ostrava University concluded after
conducting an in-depth analysis of the work. A spokesman for the university
said that while Metnar failed to include references to the sources he drew
on in his 2004 university thesis, he did include the authors and works
cited at the end of the work. Lubomír Metnar did not intentionally
plagiarize the works of others, the university concluded.
The defence minister defended his work at a press briefing in Prague on Friday afternoon, saying he had no reason to resign from office. Two ministers from this cabinet have stepped down after facing accusations of plagiarism.
President Miloš Zeman is due to appoint Jana Maláčová as minister of
labour and social affairs on July 30. before that he will meet Ms.
Maláčová, who has hitherto been a senior official at the Ministry of
Labour and Social Affairs, on Tuesday.
She will replace the Social Democrats’ Petr Krčál, who stepped down within a few weeks of taking the post after being accused of plagiarism during his student career.
Unusually the appointment ceremony will take place not at Prague Castle but at Lány, the presidential residence near the Czech capital.
Speculation has emerged that the prime minister’s nominee for the post of
labour minister, Jana Maláčová, may have been implicated in suspected
irregularities in the distribution of grants at the ministry.
A former deputy at the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said Maláčová had been involved in a case that was now under investigation.
The former labour minister Jaroslava Nemcova has denied that she had pressed charges against Malacova in connection with the irregularities uncovered, saying that the respective audit had found fault with the work of whole departments, without naming any individuals. Maláčová herself has not responded to the accusations.