Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Zeman signs Czech state budget for 2018 into law

ČTK |
21 December 2017

Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman signed the 2018 state budget bill, approved by the Czech parliament on Tuesday, into law, Jiri Ovcacek, the spokesman for the president, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

The budget was composed by the previous cabinet of Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD), Czech PM Andrej Babis reiterated in the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday.

The budget's revenues are 1314.5 billion crowns and the expenditures are 1364.5 billion crowns, which is a deficit lower by 10 billion crowns than in 2017.

In the final vote, the MPs added 3.3 billion crowns for social services, 1.0 billion crowns for farming and food processing and 0.3 billion crowns for investment in nurseries and elementary schools.

The budget bill was supported by 140 MPs in the 200-Chamber of Deputies.

MPs of the former government coalition of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) voted in support of the budget, along with those elected for the Communists (KSCM) and the right-wing populist Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).

The right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09 voted against the budget, criticising its 50-billion deficit at a time of economic boom, an increase in mandatory expenditures and a lack of investment.

The small centrist Mayors and Independents (STAN) abstained from the vote as so did the Pirates, except for one of their MPs who supported the budget.

The budget is based on an estimated economic growth of 3.1 percent, while last year the GDP increased by 2.4 percent.

The cabinet said the Czech economy profited from favourable internal and external conditions, but it warned against a possible further increase in the prices of real estate. New barriers in international trade caused by Brexit are considered another considerable risk. Other negative factors include the risk of a slowdown of the Chinese economy and problems of the Italian banking sector.

In 2018, the government intends to receive 722 billion crowns in taxes, or 35 billion more than this year. The total sum of 434 billion crowns is earmarked for the payment of pensions.

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