Right Wing Bashes Babis’s Budget As ‘Irresponsible’

Andrej Babiš

Prague, Sept 19 (CTK) – The right-wing opposition parties criticise the draft state budget for 2019, which the Czech government approved today, as they consider the planed deficit of 40 billion crowns irresponsible at the time of economic growth, their representatives have said.


The Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09 called on the minority coalition cabinet of PM Andrej Babis’s ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) to try to reduce the budget mandatory expenditures.


The chairwoman of the lower house budget committee, Miloslava Vostra (Communists, KSCM), said she considered the budget deficit acceptable, while the Pirates said it was not logical at all.


The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) also challenged the budget structure.


“The government approved the budget for next year with a 40-billion deficit. This shows that it has totally given up at least a slightly responsible financial management at the time of economic growth and a record low unemployment. The government is doing nothing with the spending chapter that is ‘swelling,’ while it wants to wear down the tax payers even more,” ODS MP Jan Skopecek tweeted.


TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil is also critical of the state budget.


“The deficit of 40 billion in the period of a high economic growth is irresponsible. The government should be more ambitious. However, then it would have to stop spreading populist gifts, such as fare discounts, and start working on lowering the mandatory expenditures,” Pospisil tweeted.


TOP 09 deputy group head and former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek told reporters that TOP 09 would propose that the Chamber of Deputies return the draft budget to the government. Investments are not the budget priority, the cabinet si just talking about them, he added.


Pirate MP Mikulas Ferjencik told reporters that he did not consider it reasonable to plan a budget deficit when the country was experiencing an immense economic growth and the lowest ever unemployment.


“We will be striving for the budget to drop by ten billion crowns at least,” he said.


SPD chairman Tomio Okamura said his movement would not support the budget.


“On the one hand, we are for a rise in pensions and support for citizens in need, but on the other hand, we have fundamental objections to higher spending on state administration,” he said.


He also blamed the government for not paying off the state debt and for planning to raise expenditures on across-the-board welfare benefits.


Vostra pointed out that the KSCM was yet to debate its support for the 2019 budget in its deputy group.


KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka called the budget deficit irresponsible.


“The budget lacks some priorities, such as housing, which all age group are dealing with now. It also needs a stronger emphasis on drought and tackling climate change problems,” he said.


He added that teachers’ salaries should also rise more than proposed.


The Finance Ministry projects the total budget revenues for 2019 at 1,465 billion crowns and expenditures at 1,505 billion.


Babis said he would like to negotiate about support for the draft 2019 state budget with all parties in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament.