Prime Minister Petr Fiala speaks at the conference of the Association of Independent Trade Unions in Prague, March 3, 2023.
Prague – Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) today asked the trade unionists to be realistic in their demands so that their fulfillment does not threaten the country's economic situation in the coming decades. At the conference of the Association of Independent Trade Unions, he repeated that the government wants to stabilize public finances, which it can only do with unpopular steps. He identified the financing of pensions as the biggest challenge for long-term sustainability and signed up to prepare a pension reform for people under 40 years of age. The president of the Union of Industry and Transport, Jaroslav Hanák, said today that there is social peace in the Czech Republic and that employers and trade unions are behaving sensibly.
At the conference, Fiala also recalled the debate in the House of Representatives, where the government coalition has been trying for the fourth day to reduce the extraordinary valuation of pensions. He called the increase in the ratio of average income to average wage good news, but according to him, the valorization scheme must be changed for the sake of the sustainability of public finances.
“We did not take advantage of the long years of prosperity, when expenditures, including mandatory ones, grew disproportionately, the servicing of the national debt is increasing dramatically – last year it amounted to 50 billion crowns, this year it will cost 70 billion, and in 2025 it will be 100 billion crowns in interest alone,” stated the prime minister. He added that the government does not want to endanger the standard of living of citizens, on the contrary, it wants to introduce systemic changes to improve the state of public finances. He promised to optimize the state administration and reiterated that the government is planning tax adjustments so that they do not increase the tax burden.
The Prime Minister does not expect that the unions will stop making demands. According to him, they should be realistic, so that it is possible to pay them and at the same time manage the economic situation in the coming years and decades. According to Hanák, social harmony is a key value. He mentioned, for example, the protests of the so-called yellow vests in France. “I can't imagine that in our country,” he said.
According to Fiala, the country has had a difficult year and the weakening of the economy causes uncertainty. But he believes that inflation is beyond its ceiling. “We can be more cautiously optimistic,” he stated, adding that a slight increase in unemployment to 3.2 percent can be expected, which will continue to be the lowest value in the European Union. Fiala considers maintaining employment extremely important in times of high inflation. According to him, the good news is that the Czech Republic has managed the problems at all levels so far.
Hanák said that the labor market is not in order in the Czech Republic, even though the government boasts of low unemployment. According to him, tens of thousands of workers may be missing each year due to the retirement of the boomers, and the government is reluctant to bring in workers from abroad. According to him, a number of companies did very well last year – for example, energy and pharmaceutical companies or banks. According to him, last year's 2.5 percent GDP growth is not a bad result and it is thanks to exports, even though it was in a loss.
He criticized the government for the fact that, according to him, reforms of the state economy should have been ready last year. “On the expenditure side, we should have already had a solution by January 2023,” said Hanák. According to him, it is necessary, for example, to solve the sale of state-owned companies, surplus property or the agenda of ministries. According to him, the resorts do what they want and the government office cannot precisely coordinate their activities. He stated that at Monday's tripartite meeting, he wants to call on the government to revise the raw materials and energy policy of the Czech Republic. According to him, entrepreneurs want to know what energy will be produced from in the coming years.
Síkela: MPO is negotiating an increase in funding from the photovoltaic renewal plan
The Ministry of Industry and Trade is negotiating with the European Commission to increase funds from the National Recovery Plan for the financing of photovoltaic power plants and other renewable sources. Last year, it allocated five billion crowns for related projects, but it received requests for a total of ten billion crowns. At the international trade union economic conference in Prague, Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela (for STAN) said this today.
According to Síkela, over 6,000 applications were received by November. “The allocation has been overdrawn, which is why we are discussing with representatives of the European Commission about increasing funds so that the maximum number of projects can be financed that will lead to a reduction in dependence on supplies from the network,” said the minister.
The national recovery plan is Síkely needs to be changed, because it was developed as a post-covid recovery tool, however, it is now being expanded to help divert individual countries' energy from Russian sources. The changes should enable the Czech Republic to draw an additional 14 billion crowns in the form of grants.
According to the Solar Association, 33,760 photovoltaic power plants with a total output of 288.8 megawatts (MW) were commissioned in the Czech Republic last year, which is a year-on-year increase of 366 percent. The average size of power plants is gradually increasing.
However, the growing number of installations runs into limits in the form of insufficient capacities of installation companies, missing components or the quality of installation work. Last year, the waiting time for installation was often twice as long. Problems also arise when connecting new photovoltaic power plants to distribution networks, especially in southern Moravia. Distributors defend themselves by saying that in some particularly exposed locations they have to limit requests to maintain network reliability. To improve the situation, they are preparing investments, according to them, a change in legislation is also necessary.
P R O G R A M
09:30 – 10:00 PRESENCE
10:00 – 10:15 Opening of the conference,
Bohumír Dufek, Chairman of the Association of Independent Trade Unions, member of the European Economic and Social Committee
10:15 – 10:30
The National Recovery Plan of the Czech Republic, an opportunity to solve the energy crisis,
Ing. Jozef Síkela, Minister of Industry and Trade
10:30 – 10:45
Speech on the current situation in energy
Ing. Vladimír Novotný, former member of the European Economic and Social Committee
10:45 – 11:00
Speech by Ing. Jaroslav Ungerman, CSc., member of the European Economic and Social Committee
11:00 – 11:15
Speech by the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Prof. PhDr. Petra Fialy, Ph.D., LL.M.
11:15 – 11:30
Speech by Ing. Jaroslav Hanák, President of the Union of Industry and Transport of the Czech Republic
11:30 – 11:45
Speech on the current economic situation and outlook for the economy
Ing. Pavel Juříček, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Directors and DG Brano Group
11:45 – 12:00
Speech on the issue of healthcare – Why will we never catch up with the EU-15?
prof. MD Ing. Petr Fiala, Ph.D, FICAE.
12:00 – 12:15
Speech on the issue of railway transport
Mgr. Martin Malý, Chairman of the Union of Railway Workers
12:15 – 12:30
Prospects of social and pension reform
Ing. Marian Jurečka, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs
12:30 – 12:45 CLOSE OF THE CONFERENCE
The participants the language of the conference will be Czech. The conference will be interpreted into English.
The conference will be broadcast live via ČTK, the ASO portal www.odbory.info and the ASO Facebook page.