Finance minister says not much manoeuvring space in revising austerity package

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has warned there is not much manoeuvring space in revising the government’s austerity package for 2013. In an interview for the daily Pravo the finance minister said that the present agreement was hard-won and involved numerous concessions and would be in danger of collapsing in the event of radical changes.

The bill, which is crucial to the government’s fiscal consolidation plans, was rejected by the lower house this week and has been sent back linked to a vote of confidence in the centre-right administration. It was rejected due to six deputies from the Civic Democratic Party who oppose tax hikes in principle and want the austerity measures to focus more on the expenditures side of the budget. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said this week that a revision would still be possible but that it must be agreed on by all coalition parties.