Government approves draft state budget for 2017
The Czech government on Wednesday approved its draft budget for 2017. The proposal envisages a deficit of 60 billion crowns and promises wage hikes for civil servants, doctors, nurses and teachers. While the opposition has criticized it for “excessively generous handouts”, the government’s comfortable majority in Parliament should secure the bill’s approval.
All other chapters have been closed, meeting the finance minister’s original deficit target of 60 billion crowns. Due to the country’s healthy economic growth, the 2017 budget proposal envisages pay hikes for civil servants, doctors, nurses and teachers. Police officers, firefighters and soldiers can also look forward to higher wages. And pensioners should get an additional 300 crowns to their monthly pensions, which average at just over 11,000 crowns. The proposal envisages higher expenditures for security and defense and an additional 3.7 billion crowns for science and research.
The draft budget proposal is to be presented to the lower house by the end of the month where it is likely to trigger heated debate. The center-right opposition parties have already expressed numerous reservations, accusing the government of squandering public funds at a time of economic prosperity and are demanding that the deficit be slashed by a half to just 30 billion.
Although the opposition wants the draft budget returned to the government for a rewrite, the ruling coalition’s comfortable majority in both houses of Parliament should ensure its smooth passage.