Prague, Jan 3 (CTK) – The six-billion-crown deficit of the Czech state budget for 2017 is good news caused by economic growth, but the former centre-left government made low investments and increased some operation costs, former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) told journalists on Wednesday.
“These trends seem rather sad. Despite the good times, expenditures on investments go down, while the running costs of the state, especially in the number of civil servants and their salaries, go up sharply,” Kalousek said.
Jan Skopecek, economic expert of the other right-wing opposition party, the Civic Democrats (ODS), said the deficit of six billion crowns cannot be considered a success after several years of economic growth.
“The state budget should have been balanced long ago,” Skopecek said.
Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), who was prime minister until early December, said the low deficit proved that his coalition government ran the state best of all the cabinets in the 25-year modern history of the country.
The Finance Ministry announced on Wednesday that the 2017 state budget ended with a deficit of 6.2 billion crowns. The deficit was originally projected at 60 billion crowns. The total state budget revenues and expenditures were 1,274 and 1,280 billion crowns, respectively.
“The government support for economic growth, high employment and measures against the grey economy contributed to the nearly balanced state budget,” Sobotka told CTK.
But the last year’s development in investment is not good and the state has been burdened by a too bureaucratic legislation in the long term, he said.
Kalousek, who was finance minister in 2007-2013, said the state would pay dearly for the low investment and high running costs once the budget revenues go down. The government does not use the good times to change the system but to spend money recklessly.
Skopecek said the government increased regular expenses by 62.6 billion crowns and it invested less than it had planned.
With such management of the state, I consider a higher collection in taxes to be a needless robbery of tax payers who would have definitely spent their money in a better way than the state. It is time to cut taxes and save in the running costs of the state,” Skopecek said.
He said the real deficit was very different from the projected one, although there were no major unexpected economic developments. The government, namely the ANO movement, presented to the lawmakers and citizens fake budgets that eventually have very different results, Skopecek said.