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Broad leadership approves ČSSD’s austerity measures

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Prague, April 9 (CTK) – The broad leadership of the Czech government Social Democrats (CSSD) approved cuts in the CSSD’s spending and an increase in revenues, as proposed by the party presidium, Saturday, CSSD head Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters after the vote by the party’s central executive committee Saturday.
The CSSD is going to take a loan worth 338 million crowns, because it has to pay 337 million to its former defence lawyer Zdenek Altner based on a recent court verdict.
Sobotka, who is Czech prime minister, said the austerity measures will also apply to the CSSD’s campaign ahead of the autumn Senate and regional elections, but he expects the party’s candidates to use their own sources to make up for the gap.
“The proposal to take out a loan and reduce the operational costs was approved…by the central executive committee Saturday. As a result, the decisions are definitive, they have taken effect, and the party leadership will be implementing them in the months and years to come,” Sobotka said.
He confirmed that the CSSD will take out the loan from the Fio banka bank.
“This bank has been supervised by the Czech National Bank (CNB), it is an absolutely transparent deal,” Sobotka said.
“Of course, if you take out a loan, you must offer guarantees for it. The CSSD offers a group of its real estate as a guarantee,” Sobotka said.
According to previous information, the real estate includes Lidovy dum, the party’s central headquarters in Prague.
The CSSD wants to save 50 to 55 million crowns this year.
Sobotka said the approved cuts of spending on the autumn election campaign are not crucial because they are of a one-off character.
“It is important for us to save money continuously,” Sobotka said.
He estimated the sum the CSSD will spend on the election campaign at 70 to 80 million crowns.
Unlike other parties, the CSSD will field candidates in all 13 regions and probably also in all of the 27 Senate wards contested, he said.
Sobotka dismissed the information that the CSSD plans to make up to one third of its employees redundant.
He said 22 employees in the party’s central headquarters will be gradually dismissed this year, and the work time of some employees in the district headquarters will be reduced.
Apart from the personnel steps, Sobotka did not comment on the approved list of austerity measures that reportedly outlines 20 points to be fulfilled.
“We will be collecting small sums of money across the whole CSSD. We strive for the party’s operation not to be endangered in any way. Everyone…each level within the party’s structure, has to contribute to the reduction of our operational costs,” Sobotka said.
Czech Television (CT) has reported that every CSSD member should contribute with 100 crowns at least and the high officials with 50,000 crowns.
The party could also save money by moving its secretariats in particular regions and towns to cheaper premises, CT said.
Earlier this month, Altner definitively won his lengthy dispute with the CSSD, which has to pay 337 million crowns to him until April 11 as a reward for his services to the party in the 1990s, plus a contractual fine.
($1=23.771 crowns)

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