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Lower house committee supports 2016 budget parameters

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Prague, Oct 14 (CTK) – The budgetary committee recommended yesterday that the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, approve the basic parameters of the draft state budget for 2016, including its 70-billion-crown deficit, in the first reading.
The deficit is to decrease from 100 billion this year.
Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told the committee members that the budget was to inject money in the economy and stimulate the economic growth.
Opposition TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek failed to push through his proposal that the committee recommend to return the budget draft to the government for rewriting. He said the government of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) should decrease expenditures, and thereby also the deficit.
Zbynek Stanjura, head of the opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy group, also opposed the budget, and wanted it to be returned to the the centre-left government of the CSSD, ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
He criticised the high deficit, saying it should be decreasing more steeply at the time of a massive economic growth. He also minded the proposed rise in operational costs and low investments.
Babis called the projected deficit a compromise, adding that an even higher sum had been proposed.
The Chamber of Deputies is to deal with the draft budget in the first reading next Wednesday.
In the first reading, the deputies approve the revenues and expenditures and the deficit of the budget, including its repayment. In the second reading, they can propose only transfers within the budget, but they cannot change its overall parameters.
The 2016 budget expenditures have been projected at 1,251 billion crowns and the revenues at 1,181 billion. The budget includes increased spending related to the current migration wave and a pay rise for public sector employees.
The government expects the economy to grow by 2.5 percent and the unemployment rate to fall from the present 5.7 percent to 5.5 percent.
($1=23.853 crowns)

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