Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman signed the 2017 state budget bill into law yesterday, including the budget gap of 60 billion crowns, ten-billion lower than the gap projected for 2016, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek has tweeted.
When the bill was discussed in parliament, Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) said he expects the 2017 deficit to finish lower than projected.
The 2017 budget sets the revenues at 1249.3 billion crowns and the expenditures at 1309.3 billion crowns.
The budget projects an increase in the pay of selected professions such as teachers and health workers, and with a growth of pensions. The planned increase in the health insurance fees the state pays for children, pensioners and the unemployed is also incorporated in the budget.
During the debate in parliament, Zeman said he would seek more investments in cutting certain types of welfare benefits and the state subsidies to renewable energy sources.
He said the state budget should be projected with a surplus in periods of economic growth, which is the case now, and with a deficit in periods of crisis.
Babis said the budget follows the strategy of a gradual decrease in the deficit, supports the economic growth and household consumption.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said the budget will help secure another period of prosperity, economic growth and low unemployment.
The budget was also hailed by the third partner in Sobotka’s centre-left government, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
The opposition criticised the budget. The rightist parties, for example, condemned the planned swelling of the state administration staff and what they called too low investment spending.