Jurečka: We have to go back to raising taxes
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IN TODAY’S EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN, AMONG OTHER THINGS:
  • As Deputy Prime Minister, how satisfied is he with the budget? (0:23)
  • Where will the government save 70 billion crowns, as proposed by the Minister of Finance? (5:01 a.m.)
  • How will he propose to reduce unemployment benefits? (13:22)
  • Will Petr Hladík become Minister of the Environment? (16:20)
  • Will the government intervene in the situation in Prague? (21:13)

This year’s budget deficit after the amendment will be 375 billion crowns. You are planning 295 billion for next year. Are you satisfied with that, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister?

I have no joy. But I see it as a necessary step in order to help households, families, the public sector and companies manage the crisis situation of high energy prices and high inflation.

So do you understand the criticism from, for example, the National Economic Council of the Government (NERV) or ex-Minister of Finance Miroslav Kalouska (TOP 09)?

Absolutely. I think that every reasonable person knows that going into debt in a situation where this state already has deficits from previous years is permanently unsustainable.

The government is analyzing a possible further reduction of transport discounts, as suggested by NERV

Economy

In the program statement, you state that you will ensure reasonable management of the state in the shortest possible time. So when will we see it?

We are trying to fulfill it, even though it may not be visible at first glance.

In recent weeks, because of the deficits, there has often been talk of savings. The head of the state treasury Zbyněk Stanjura (ODS) wants to present a package in May that is supposed to save 70 billion. Are you already deciding where to take it?

The finance minister said the amount in the media, I haven’t seen the breakdown yet. We’ll talk about it.

We must also return to raising taxes, which can bring stability to the budget in the long term. The principle must apply here that those who can be in solidarity should be.

Meanwhile, the National Economic Council of the Government (NERV) has proposed several steps to reduce the deficit. There is also a proposal to increase taxes to the level of 2020, that is, before the abolition of the super-gross wage and the introduction of the current two rates. Wouldn’t that basically just solve the 70 billion?

We will definitely discuss it intensively in the first quarter of next year. I agree that it is necessary to look for additional revenues for the state budget, i.e. not only within the framework of one-time revenues such as the windfall tax.

We must also return to raising taxes, which can bring stability to the budget in the long term. The principle must apply here that those who can be in solidarity should be. On behalf of the KDU-ČSL, I say that we return to progressive taxation of natural persons. This principle works in many western countries. (…) And it is perhaps also for the debate – where I will not burden citizens with average incomes – about the real estate tax.

But wouldn’t you like to return to 2020? At that time, you did not vote in the House of Representatives for the simultaneous cancellation of the super gross wage and the introduction of the current two rates.

I am afraid that it is politically unrealistic for us to return to the same values ​​as before the super gross wage was abolished.

NERV also presented other proposals, such as tuition fees at universities or later retirement. Do you think any of this is realistic?

I can imagine that we will have a debate on parameters for some of the proposals. For example, my children would not have to have fare discounts. But I am skeptical about school fees, that attempt has already been made here politically and it didn’t work out.

So children and students from poorer families could continue to have fare discounts and others not?

I said this as an example that we can talk about how to set up measures to leave the support weaker. On the contrary, we would not provide support for those where it is not necessary. But it must not be blunt anti-social cuts.

NERV prescribes a diet for the state. The coalition doesn’t smell very good

Homemade

Could the mentioned designs already be in that May package?

We have to discuss the changes during the first half of 2023. If things are to apply on January 1, 2024, then there is not much time.

You yourself suggested reducing unemployment benefits, which was not met with entirely positive reactions. Will you insist?

So it’s not about whether it met with any greater or lesser support. We have the lowest unemployment and companies are still in demand for employees. I therefore want to focus on those who have been on work support for several months and are there repeatedly.

But now companies are talking about massive layoffs, while you want cuts in unemployment benefits. At the same time, you repeated that you will not let anyone fall.

I base it on what the data from the companies tell us. In a September survey, 22 percent of companies said they were considering layoffs. But in the same survey, 33 percent say they are ready to hire. There are plenty of sectors that offer jobs, that won’t change even in a quarter of a year.

Can you be more specific?

If we look at the field of social or health services, there is a long-term demand for people there.

However, there is probably a need for specific education.

There are also positions where it is not necessary to have an education that could not be supplemented by a course.

The situation in Brno appeared just before Hladík was on his way to being appointed minister. At the time, I didn’t think it was good for it to happen that way, so we gave him space to explain it.

You have confirmed that you will insist on the nomination of Petr Hladík. What has changed in four weeks, when he had to explain his connection to the Brno case with city apartments?

Nothing has changed. We, for the KDU-ČSL, have been saying all along that he is our nominee for the Ministry of the Environment. The situation in Brno appeared just before Hladík was on his way to being appointed as a minister. At the time, I didn’t think it was good for it to happen that way, so we gave him space to explain it. He has not committed anything criminal, he has not been charged.

However, the prime minister gave Hladík four weeks to explain. Will he be satisfied? Have you talked to him about it?

I told him that Petr Hladík is still a nomination for the Minister of the Environment for us, if nothing important is revealed during this time and his position is not extended to, for example, an accused person. I see no reason why KDU-ČSL should change its decision and consider another nomination.

Jurečka would like to hand over the Ministry of the Environment to Hladík. The prime minister will ask for it

Homemade

Do you think this is a good idea for the KDU-ČSL brand?

If a person has not committed anything illegal and just goes to the police to give an explanation, I see no reason why he should be “kicked out” of political life. It is also necessary to look at it through the lens of whether the politician is telling the truth.

But if it is a good calling card for your party, which has been hovering below the five percent threshold in the polls for a long time? Because according to a survey by the Median agency for Czech Radio, over 64 percent of Czechs do not want Mr. Hladík in the ministry.

I haven’t seen the survey. But it is important to me what a person does as a politician. Its results are for the benefit of the citizens of this country. I also read a lot about myself in the media and in the public space.

It is important to us that the negotiations in Prague are successfully completed. I regret the attitude of some partners, specifically the Pirates and Mayor Zdenek Hřib. It will be a shame if it doesn’t work out.

In Prague, you have the criminally prosecuted Jan Wolf, who the Pirates don’t want on the council. Will you intervene in the negotiations?

I don’t intervene in negotiations in a way that tells someone they have to leave. Wolf did nothing criminal. I believe that the court will acquit the participants. He should consider to what extent his name should be associated with the possibility of concluding a coalition in Prague on the government’s plan.

Are you dealing with it within the government coalition? That there is no agreement in Prague two months after the elections.

We’re dealing with it because we definitely don’t care. It is important to us that the negotiations here are successfully completed. I regret the attitude of some partners.

You probably mean the mayor Zdenek Hřib.

Yes, I do not completely understand the attitude of my fellow Pirates and Hřib in particular.

In your opinion, should Pirates boss Ivan Bartoš “compare” Mr. Hřib?

In parties – unless we are talking about ANO or SPD – it does not work in such a way that chairpersons compare people. But it is important to look at it from the perspective that if a coalition in Prague is created on the government’s plan, it can really be beneficial for Prague. The coalition would have good relations with the government, many things could be moved forward. It will be a shame if it doesn’t work out.

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Homemade

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