PM tells Czechs to brace for a difficult year

Caretaker Prime Minister Jan Fischer on Sunday warned Czechs the coming year would not be an easy one. He said people would feel the burden of both rising unemployment –expected to reach 10 percent – and the austerity package introduced by the government. The prime minister said the planned tax-hikes and cost-cuts were inevitable if the Czech Republic wanted to avoid serious long-term problems. According to the Prime Minister’s estimates the austerity package should not increase household costs by more than a thousand crowns.

The package of tax-hikes and spending cuts will reduce next year’s budget deficit to 162.8 billion crowns that is 5.2 percent of GDP. A tight rein on spending was the prime minister’s condition for staying in office and after two days of heated debate in Parliament this week the package was approved by all parties with the exception of the Communists.