Thursday, 15 November 2018

PM Babiš introduces ANO-ČSSD gov't programme to deputies

ČTK |
12 July 2018

Prague, July 11 (CTK) - The policy statement of the new Czech cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) is very good and corresponds to the situation in the country, PM Andrej Babis (ANO) told the Chamber of Deputies before its vote of confidence in his cabinet on Wednesday.

He mentioned and highlighted six priorities, promising to boost investments, raise pensions, teachers' wages and defence spending and reduce the state debt.

The Czech Republic will be active in the EU, he said in his speech lasting 1:40 hours.

"I am convinced that the new minority cabinet will do its utmost for people," Babis said and added that the cabinet will do the same for the Czech Republic to fare well.

CSSD chairman and Deputy PM Jan Hamacek said, in his three-minute speech, that his party has negotiated favourable conditions for its joining Babis's cabinet and it will see to that the cabinet's left-wing goals are implemented.

"We will work for all citizens regardless their wealth or status. We want all of us to live comfortably in our country," Hamacek said, mentioning an increase in sickness benefits among the government's plans.

Vojtech Filip, chairman of the Communists (KSCM) who have pledged to support the ANO-CSSD minority cabinet, said they will do so because the cabinet promises a change the Czech state needs.

The KSCM will not allow anybody to bar it from applying its right to influence state affairs, Filip said, referring to the principle of the free competition of parties and citizens' equal access to elected an other posts.

He reacted to critics objecting to the KSCM indirectly coming to power for the first time since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.

The Babis cabinet's policy statement is a step towards a change, which is urgently needed and which voters forced out in the elections, Filip said, alluding to the sweeping victory of ANO in the October 2017 general election.

On the other hand, there are many issues in the cabinet's programme which the KSCM does not have to approve and would not support them, he added.

Babis said the cabinet will not behave arrogantly towards the opposition and will want to cooperate with it in areas such as foreign policy, digitisation and transport projects construction.

Babis said he is submitting the cabinet's policy statement to the Chamber of Deputies "with humbleness."

He said Czechia has a chance to grow and return to the top of Europe.

The main points of the government's programme are the pension system reform, the digital Czechia project, the promotion of Czech interests in the EU and in the world, a strategic investment programme, a reform of the state and enhanced security, Babis said, adding that they plans enjoy social consensus.

He mentioned the country's food self-sufficiency, plans related to healthcare and education, a more effective tax collection, the lowering of selected taxes and the boosting of energy industry.

"My position on atom is clear, nuclear energy sources are the most advantageous for us," Babis said.

He comprehensively referred to the state economy.

He said the government wants to seek a balanced budget, but the budget deficit [it has projected for 2019] is only minimal.

"It is necessary to take into account the investment delays persisting from the past," he said, promising the construction or modernisation of 210 km of motorways by the end of the election term in 2021.

Babis said he wants to make ministers save money.

He criticised the current law on civil service and refused the idea of a flat rise in the wages of state administration clerks.

He considers it a mistake that the law does not enable ministers to replace their subordinates who work poorly.

"Our EU membership has no alternative," Babis emphasised and said the Czechs will be active in the EU.

He said the introduction of EU migrant redistribution quotas has been successfully prevented.

"We have achieved this. They cannot outvote us any more. Finally, we really have an influence," Babis said.

Babis said the Czechs, like other NATO members, have pledged to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence, but it is necessary to have a vision of how to raise this spending and fulfil it gradually.

"Our trend in this respect is favourable. It is important for the sum planned for expenditures to be spent," Babis said.

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