Prague, April 2 (CTK) – About five billion crowns from the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol should annually be used to cover investments in hospitals such as the reconstruction of buildings, Health Minister Miloslav Ludvik (Social Democrats, CSSD) said in a televised debate yesterday.

The money would be managed by a special fund similar to the transport fund that covers roads’ construction and repairs, Ludvik, former director of Prague’s Motol University Hospital (FNM), which is the largest in the country, said.

He mentioned the need to direct a part of the tobacco and alcohol excise tax during the question time in the Chamber of Deputies a month ago.

He said yesterday he wants to complete a proposal in this respect and submit it to the cabinet in May or June.

It will be up to the new cabinet and the new Chamber of Deputies, which will emerge from the October general election, to make the proposal a law, Ludvik said.

He said he estimates the sum that should flow to the planned hospital fund at five billion crowns.

The money should go to projects such as hospital buildings’ repairs, which have been paid from health insurance so far.

Hospitals lack dozens of billions of crowns, maybe a hundred billion, which they need for repairs, Ludvik said.

Josef Marz, director of the hospital in Karlovy Vary, west Bohemia, said his hospital would be unable to finance reconstruction without financial support from the self-rule region, which owns and runs it, and from European funds.

Similarly, the hospital can buy new equipment thanks to subsidies only, Marz said.

Czech Doctors’ Chamber (CLK) President Milan Kubek said he has been proposing the transfer of a part of the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol to the health sector for about ten years now.

He suggested, however, the money should not go to hospitals only, but it should be added to public health insurance.

“We always believed that it will be a public health insurance revenue,” Kubek said on behalf of the CLK, adding that the money would thus also be accessible to private hospitals and out-patient surgeries.
($1=25.282 crowns)