Press Conferences

15. 10. 2008 16:07

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Government, Held on Wednesday 15th October 2008

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. I welcome here members of the government- the 1st Deputy Prime Minster, Mr. Jiří Čunek, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment, Mr. Martin Bursík, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Petr Gandalovič, and the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Eduard Janota. I ask the 1st Deputy Prime Minister for his introductory speech.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Ladies and gentlemen, lower number of members of the government attended today's meeting as the majority was at the session in Brussels, the date of which could not be influenced. That is why the Deputy Prime Minister Vondra, the Minister Kalousek, Minister Svoboda are not present; all of them attend the events in Brussels. In comparison with the original plan, some items were withdrawn so that they would be debated in larger attendance of members of the government. You have today's agenda at your disposal. Information on the fulfilling the state budget will be provided by Deputy Minister of Finance Janota. Then we have here Mr. Minister Gandalovič with us who will inform you on his item. I am not going to make comments on it. Some items were suspended at the meeting of the government it concerned the item no.4 the Foreign Exchange Act, it would be debated at the meeting of the government on Monday. Then it was the item no.12 – Draft Changes in the Statute of the Czech Human Rights Government Council and the item no.15 – the Implementation report of pilot project "Selection of Qualified Alien Workers" in 2003 – 2008. This item was withdrawn from the agenda by the minister; I have forgotten – the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs was also in Brussels and that is why that item had to be withdrawn either. Therefore there is a fragment which was formed of the remaining items. We will discuss them step by step. I will inform you on those items which cannot be explained by the relevant minister. I ask the Deputy Minister of Finance to make some comments on the cash fulfilment of the state budget in the 1st - 3rd quarter 2008.

Eduard Janota, Deputy Minister of Finance: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a standard material which we submit to the government and which is then passed to the Chamber of Deputies. In this material facts are stated that are included in and materials related to the Act on the State Budget for the next year. To summarize it, I would say that the deficit in the first three quarters of the year was 10,5 billion crowns which was by 25 billion crowns less than in the last year. It was extremely positive figure and it was caused by the reform of the public budgets on the expenditure and the revenue side. Perhaps the most important information is that if we compare tax revenues of this year with tax revenues of the last year, this year's revenues were higher by 44 billion. In other words, it is proved that the primary sense of the tax reform was not only to cut taxes but in particular to restructure tax burden; it means to reduce direct taxes and to increase indirect taxes through the increase of the lower limit of the value added tax. As to the tax revenues, we suppose them to be in compliance with the expected values. Their structure will be different, which means that the value added tax revenues will be lower but the tax revenue of the income tax of both natural persons and legal entities will be exceeded; consumption tax revenue will be similar to the planned figures. Therefore we expect that the budgetary expectations will be met. That was information on the revenue side of the budget. On the expenditure side there are certain trends to withdraw funds faster. The faster withdrawal is connected with the speed of fund withdrawal for investments and mandatory expenditure resulting from the law. Nevertheless, we expect that the result of the state budget should be better that it was expected in the law. The planned deficit was 71 billion crowns but I suppose that the real deficit might range between 55 and 60 billion crowns. Of course, the final amount will depend on the expenditure in the last quarter of the year. A positive aspect is that we succeed in drawing European funds. The balance is positive; nevertheless I objectively informed the government that the total amount of fund drawing includes also in advance drawing for projects from the time period 2007-2013. As to the debt servicing, this problem was discussed also in media. The state debt amounts to 952 billion crowns and it will probably exceed the level of 1000 billion crowns by the end of the year. Just to specify this issue – I mean the state debt – the debt of the Czech Republic, which is primarily generated by the state budget deficit and partly by deficits of state funds. If I add deficits of municipalities and regions, which amount to 82 billion crowns, it would be the public deficit and if I add debt of private subjects, banks or firms, it would be the debt of the Czech Republic, which currently amounts to 1400 billion crowns. For us the most important debt is that which is compared with Maastricht criteria and this debt is at the level of 27,5% of GDP, in other words markedly bellow the Maastricht criterion. In conclusion I would like to say that the state budget development was positive in fact. There are no fears of some divergences in the state budget in this year. On the contrary, we expect improvement of the situation in the following year. The situation will be influenced by impact of rates of exchange development of the first half of the year which had certain connections with economic results of the individual firms. A question is, of course, how the sector of firms will be able to cope with impacts connecting with the development in the monetary area in abroad. But last signals indicate that the situation is being solved through various forms of guarantees and various forms of participation of the individual states. That might create favourable conditions for realization of our exports which forms a significant part of our GDP. We estimate the GDP for this year at the amount of 4,4% and for the next year between 3,6-3,8%. It is a very positive result in comparison with information we have from West European countries and from America. That was my introductory information.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Further item was the Bill amending the Act on Protection of Land Resources. As it was Mr. Minister Bursík who submitted it, he has the floor.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: I will provide just brief information on it, as this point was suspended; there was one formal discrepancy which concerned rather interpretation of the legislation. This bill will be debated at the next meeting of the government and I will provide brief information on it because I will not be present at the meeting because of my attendance to the session of the Council of Ministers in Luxembourg. It is a very important law as it should enable to more efficiently protect the farming land. It is apparent that this stage of the economic development creates great pressure on usage of farming land. We register about 5000 hectares of farming land that are used for new for logistic centres and various manufacturing centres every year. In the situation in which the Ministry of Environment decides only in cases above 10 hectares and in case of smaller lands regions or municipalities decide, it is shown that the economic tool is not motivating enough for investors to be interested in so called brownfields, old factories or cooperative farms, etc. In this area a significant valorisation of fees will be applied in case of conversion of farming lands to building sites. It will depend on the quality of lands; in case of high quality lands the fee is currently up to 124000 crowns per hectare and according to this bill there will be coefficient 9 applied and thus the average costs of conversion of farming land to building site will be nearly 950000 crowns. For lands of lower quality it will be below 50000 crowns per hectare. So, these were the most important aspects. Also the administrative procedure will be simplified as one component of the decision-making process will be removed. The Czech Environmental Inspection will be given competences in the sphere of land protection that it has not had so far. So, this bill was not approved at the meeting of the government yet and it was to be debated at the Monday's meeting.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Thank you. As I have already said, the Bill amending the Act on Foreign Exchange will be debated on Monday. Further bill which was debated was the Bill amending the Act on the Office of the Government Representation in Property Affairs. The purpose of the bill is that the Children and Youth Fund which is in liquidation will not be administered by the Ministry of Finance, I mean by the Office of the Government Representation in Property Affairs. Thus, economies amounted to seven million crowns yearly will take place relating to salaries of employees of the Ministry of Finance who have administrated this fund. These costs are not all the costs as travel expenses and other costs are not included in that amount. So, significant economies take place in this area. Further bill which was debated was the Proposal by deputy Křeček for promulgation of the Act amending Civil Code. The point was that tenants would have a right, according to this proposal, to exchange their flats based on an agreement with other tenants and then they would have to ask a landlord for permission. The duty of a landlord would be to inform tenants on his/her disapproval within thirty days and within the same time to file an action. In other words, significant strengthening of tenants´ rights and also weakening of landlords´ right would take place which would collide with our Constitution. That was one aspect. The other one was that the new part of the Civil Code would specify issues of transfers of tenancies and exchanges of flats through a standard way which would be in compliance with the law. Therefore the government refused this proposal and it did not approve the bill of deputy Křeček. Furthermore, the Bill amending the Act on Supplementary Pension Insurance was debated. All the items concerning audit conclusions were withdrawn from the agenda of the meeting. Further item was the 2007 Environment Report of the Czech Republic which was submitted by the Deputy Prime Minister Bursík.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: Thank you. I have four minutes, according to my estimate, to present so thick report of environment which is submitted every year. The most important thing is that we noticed a negative turning point in the positive trend of emission reduction. That dramatic drop, that emission reduction of all types of pollutants in 2005 and 2006 changed and those concentration became to slightly rise. We became worry about this trend. In this year, in 2007 it was confirmed that the negative trend did not continue and that the state of atmosphere became to improve again which was very cardinal. The area of our territory with worsened quality of atmosphere was reduced from 29% in 2006 to 6,3% in 2007; however in this area lived about 32% of the population. It is the Moravian-Silesian region which remains the most problematic region from the point of view of environment protection. Fine dust and fixed polyaromatic hydrocarbons are typical for the most affected regions, mainly for Moravian-Silesian Region, Prague and North-Western Bohemia. Pollution of surface waters and subterranean waters is declining thanks to investments in sewage disposal plants. The quality of water is increasing. Essential information is that energy use of our economy is constantly rapidly dropping. It was by 6% in the last year. It was very positive. Positive news is also the fact that the share of railway freight transport have increased by 3,3% and the drop of railway transport share has been ceased. The railway transport is very environmental friendly way of transport. The influence of the transport, as well as in all the other European countries, is strengthening and transport is responsible for one third of nitrogen oxide emission, 23% of organic hydrocarbons and 33% of fine dust. As far as the finest fractions are concerned, it is even 46%. Then there is a problem with heating of households, where we failed in ceasing the unfavourable trend, as it was as late as this year when the national programme of investments in environmental friendly heating was launched. Therefore, there are still lots of households which are responsible for about 30% of emissions of fine airborne dust. Information was published today on servers and in the Právo daily that 51% of Czechs breathe carcinogenic substances. I would like to explain that problem as in case the information is out of context it might affect very negatively. The main resource benzapyren is imperfect incineration of coal in household, diesel engines which use oil and also coke and iron manufacturing. Benzapyren emissions are monitored at 3 spots in the Czech Republic and in 21 case limits were exceeded. The greatest exceeding was measured just in Ostrava, Ostrava-Bartkovice. Last week we had a discussion with the mayor of town of Havířov, the Czech Environmental Inspection is leading negotiations with the company Mittal. There are concrete measures agreed there which are to lead to improvement of the situation. In other words, we are doing our best, but what is the most important and what was not included in the news on servers is that it is truth that there is 4,9% of our territory where the target emission limits are exceeded. In total 51% of inhabitants are affected, but in comparison with 2006 it is a significant improvement because in 2006 it was not 4,9 of our territory but 9% of territory. Then, 69% of inhabitants were affected; in other words, we succeeded in reducing the exposition by 28% of inhabitants of the Czech Republic. And it is necessary to add that the target emission limit is very strict and we want to reach it by the end of 2012. That is why I would like to correct that information so that it would not regarded as worsening the situation. The situation has not worsened and we had that target by the end of 2012. The area of forests is expanding and it is important, I am pleased that the Minister of Agriculture is present here as a very significant partner, it is important that the share of deciduous forests is gradually increasing and also areas of mixed forests are expanding. The areas of spruce and pine forests are reducing and that of beech, oaks ash and maple forests are expanding. This fact we regard as very positive information. Investments into the environment protection are increasing; we have reached investments into the environment protection amounted to 2% of GDP for the first time. Last year it was 1,7%. And finally the last news and it is essential – how the inhabitants perceive the protection of environment – we have achieved growth in number of inhabitants who were content with the protection of environment by 8%. It means that 57% of inhabitants are contents with the situation in the environmental sphere. Inhabitants concurrently require further improvement of environment. We are monitoring trends; this report cannot be regarded as a static matter. The important things are trends in the individual parts of environment and the development as a whole is very positive. The fact that this report is published in such a detailed way is evidence of openness of the Ministry of Environment and its transparency. We really publish all the information we have in this area on our websites so that it would be at the disposal to journalists and the general public. We do not want to interpret the information based on selected data on the state of environment, on selected indicators. We are publishing all the data which we have at our disposal. Thank you for your attention.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Further item was the Action Plan of Meeting Priorities and Targets of the National Strategy for Protection of Financial Interests of the European Communities in the Czech Republic. The Deputy Minister of Finance will provide information on it.

Eduard Janota, Deputy Minister of Finance: The material concretizes in fact the strategy of the government in the process of implementation of the control. If I am to characterize it briefly, I would say that we have certain methodological instructions and procedures for implementation of the process of project selection, project approval, for funds drawing, and for requests for funds. This material solves the issue of control mechanisms which has not been fully implemented here in relation to the European directives. In other words, the reason is to harmonize these control mechanisms. That is the content of the material, in fact. The material is not new; it was discussed with all the ministries and ministries would respect it; thus we would definitely harmonize the legislation of the Czech Republic with that of the European Union as far as drawing of funds is concerned.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: The point is that further negotiations have links to this issue. I attended a negotiation of the Visegrad Group yesterday, at which also Bulgaria and Romania were present, and the most significant topic, in fact, was that concerning strictness of the European controls; it is in fact the content of this material. The European Commission wants its money to be secured in the individual states in such a way like these states protect their own money. The Czech Republic will have to adopt the respective bill by spring of the next year. Concurrently, we want to submit, I mean the Ministry for Regional Development, a material, the title of which is "Duplicities", so that citizens would not be unnecessarily controlled and bothered by state bodies which can independently control them. Therefore we, together with the Ministry of Finance, are working on such a material which is connected with the fact that we will have to do the control of European money in compliance with the request of the European Commission. The individual states of the Visegrad Group want to provide Europe with a material in which certain discontent will be expressed as lots of controls will have to be done and the administration would spend great financial means which could be used for regional development and other projects.

Eduard Janota, Deputy Minister of Finance: If you allow making a comment, the procedure, that direction is aimed at reasonable performing of those controls, so that we would not be more Catholic than the Pope. Sometime it was shown that certain subjects were stricter that it was necessary and they generated problems which had to be solved on the highest level. In other words, there is certain instruction there how to do those controls so that all their parameters would be observed, and so that we would observe our legislation and so that we do not be stricter than necessary on the one hand. I do not mean it in a pejorative way; most countries act like this. In this respect we should give all the state bodies and ministries clear guidelines how to do proceed.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: In short, it is very important for us that the European funds are here so as they contribute to the regional development. They should not be returned to Brussels just because an officer uses wrong interpretation and does not want to discuss on their proper spending. There are lots of such cases and ministers have to negotiate with the European Commission on those problems. Further item of the agenda was the Draft Concept of Development of Information and Communication Technologies in Education in 2009-2013 which was approved. It is an intention, in fact, which was presented by Minister Liška. It concerned the implementation of a school central portal and it showed efforts to introduce the Internet at all the schools in the Czech Republic; we include also elementary schools in that programme of course and Minister Liška together with other minister were given a task to work on it. . Further material which was approved and had terrible title was the report for the Czech government which was submitted by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment Prevention. This European committee has a right to enter any member country of the EU and to control all the repressive facilities, in particular prisons. This committee issues a report, a standpoint and the government handed over the report to the individual ministers to express their opinions whether they would be positive or negative; their standpoints would be submitted to the government in following weeks. Then the lady-minister submitted the Draft Changes in the Statute of the Czech Human Rights Government Council; the debate on this material was suspended and it will continue next week. Then it was debate the material of the Minister Gandalovič. The material was very important especially for citizens of the Hradec Králové Region where various obstructions took place regarding land. Following this material, the requirements were settled so that the motorway D11 could be constructed. You have the floor, Mr. Minister.

Petr Gandalovič, Minister of Agriculture: Ladies and gentlemen, as you know completion of the construction of the motorway D11 was hampered by negotiations with the owner of pieces of land, the area of which was about 11 hectares. Those negotiations have been lead for many years during governance of previous cabinets and no progress was achieved. Our government, following the proposal of the Minister Agriculture, considered the proposal for provision of compensation that lady for her pieces of land at the same area plus about 50 million crowns as an additional charge of that value. Mrs. Havránková decided not to accept this offer as she preferred continuation of her business activities, which were significantly hampered by the construction of the motorway. Therefore she required additional settlement not in the form of money but in the form of land. We decided to meet her requirement primarily because she agreed that the state would have an option to buy those 247 or 250 hectares of land which were subject of the offer. It means that she will not be able to use this land for any speculations; nevertheless Mrs. Havránková expresses her will to run the farm on this land. I would like to emphasize that it is an extraordinary solution and that it was forced by great delay in construction of the motorway D11 to Hradec Králové. This government is not responsible for that delay at all. The negotiations have been lead for a long time and as I have already said our government had been trying to reach an agreement through different way. I should say that it is impossible for anybody to take this model as precedence, as every case is different and every case will be considered differently. The solution which was also considered, expropriation of land, would undoubtedly meant many-year delay in construction of the motorway D11 to Hradec Králové., and I am of the opinion that the inhabitants of Hradec Králové, and not only Hradec Králové because it is a question of other roads leading to Moravia, would not deserve it as they would not have a concrete solution of the Czech government.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I would like to add to this that it was a material which had been debated for a long time. I finally voted for, for those reasons which have been mentioned by the Minister Gandalovič; it concerned a long-term dispute with farmers. They were also persecuted in the past regime when their farms were confiscated as it was a very old farming family. In spite of this, I pointed out that it was perhaps the last case which had to be solved in such an exceptional way as I was convinced that all cases would have to be solved in the same way and fairly. Motorways and railway corridors will be constructed everywhere in compliance with the territorial development plans, and with standpoint of the Ministry of Environment. All of us agreed with the construction of this motorway and the settlement should not be in favour of the only one person and in a non-standard way. It would constitute absolute demoralization of our environment where fine people get less than those who are rough. That is why I am convinced that the government will have to consider expropriation as a tool which will be necessary for really standard and fair approach to every subject. Therefore the debate was so long and each of us had rather different opinion on that issue.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: May I also add my brief comment to this topic? It was not for the first time when we debated the expropriation; nevertheless, the government had absolutely unambiguous opinion that the ownership is sacred. If such a situation takes place that the only one possible solution is expropriation, then the expropriation must be done in compliance with law and compensation must be offered; moreover, the owner must have a right to protection which means protection including court protection, and such a protection must have a suspending effect. The government decided on it during previous discussions. I am of the opinion that it is necessary to mention it here after that concrete case as nothing has been changed and I think it is necessary to appreciate the work of the Minister of Agriculture because his ministry took over a thorny problem from the Directorate of Roads and Motorways and the Ministry of Transport; I mean the previous Ministry of Transport. Our objective is to have enough time for property settlement in the time schedules of all constructions, so that not to have to solve them in such a way. I am of the opinion that it is a memento for the Ministry of Transport and its bodies, because the Ministry of Agriculture managed to solve the problem in such a way because on the one hand there is a clause which prevents the owner from speculations and on the other hand the owner of land is interested in continuation of farming activities. I think it is absolutely correct solution and the government agreed on it unanimously. I regarded as necessary to summarize the debate and the stand of the government. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Deputy Prime Minister. We can continue our press conference and ask questions.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: The additional comment was clear – there should always be compensation. It is obvious that we cannot expropriate anything without compensation. I think it is apparent in those materials which have been commented and so, there is time for questions.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Reuters.

Jana Mlčochová, Reuters: I would improve the opportunity as Mr. Janota is present and I would like to ask him about information that appeared today in media on the Czech bonds. An agreement had been allegedly made that the Ministry of Finance would cease to issue bonds. I would like to know whether the information is correct and how the government will ensure funding. Thank you.

Eduard Janota, Deputy Minister of Finance: In your interpretation the information seems to be very complicated. In the current situation we have our strategy for 2008 prepared. I stated that the fulfilment of the state budget was better than it had expected. There was also further factor here – we issued Eurobonds in June at the amount of 2 billion euro and thus we created a pillow which would enable us to decrease certain requirements for issue of further bonds in the last quarter of the year. In other words, it was not an extraordinary step. We informed the Czech National Bank on it and we would issue bonds in accordance with our needs; it would be in lesser extent that it had been expected. All the other matters are speculations; it is unnecessary regard it as something extraordinary. It is an advantage for us because the market is very volatile nowadays and the level of annual return will be different. In other words, we made a reserves and it would be advantageous for us. I do not now anything in which form it was published in media; I did not have time to read newspapers today; nevertheless, I say that we discussed this topic and that the issue of bonds will be lower. We do not expect any issue of bonds in the nearest future with the exception of so called floaters, a variably interest bearing issue. We have information that banks are interested in this instrument and we would not like to complicate situation and we will use financing of our debts at the extent which we need.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. The Czech TV.

Alice Schinabecková, Czech TV: I would like to ask – the government was to discuss the support of certain fields of study at the Faculty of Philosophy. Have you decide on certain support and at what amount? Why the preservation of those fields of studies is so important? And I have still second question – you were talking about the report of the European Committee for Torture Prevention. Could you inform us on the contents of the report? Thank you.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: As to the first question, it was debated at the last meeting of the government. I remember the discussion of Mr. Minister Liška and that is why I did not make any comments. Yes, the transfer or strengthening of the individual fields by the amount of 5 million crowns was approved today for because certain parts of the education sphere faced crisis and our industry needed them. Also the Czech Republic needed them, as for example Arabic studies and other disciplines in which the Czech Republic had used to be dominant even in the world context and they might be important for the economic interests of the Czech Republic and its entrepreneurs. That was also the reason why the government decided to approve the proposal. As to the report, it contents a discussion of the European experts of the Committee with our experts on certain measures taken in connection with certain offenders of particularly sexually motivated crimes. The discussion is on appropriateness of such measures which are taken by the Czech Republic and on the way of treatment of those persons; whether they are appropriate or not. Nevertheless, it is the report which reflects vies of supervisors or commissioners. Our response will be prepared by the individual ministries, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health and by sexologists, psychiatrics and so on. Even after that the government will debate it.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the TV Nova, please.

Vladimír Keblůšek, TV Nova: I have a question to the Deputy Prime Minister Čunek. In the new law which will be submitted by Minister Julínek regarding the second stage of the reform it is expected that parents who ask for insemination could under certain circumstances choose the gender of a child. I would like to know your opinion. What is your stand to it?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: This proposal really was not debated at the meeting of the government. I will say just the only one sentence. Whenever a man began to think, in the history, that he was a master of the Universe, then he and the entire civilization came to a sticky end. God can never be substitute.

Czech Radio – Radiožurnál: I have a question rather to the Deputy Prime Minister Bursík. You were speaking about the situation in the environmental sphere and you said that the energy intensity of our firms was markedly decreasing. Which aspects play the most significant role in it?

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: It is modernization of our industry. Primarily, it is this sector, as the sector of energy production is stable, in fact, and only nowadays modernization of blocks of coal power station is beginning; nevertheless, these data are not included in that report. Moreover, I do not expect any significant modernization in the energy industry and we are leading a dialogue with the energy producer and distributor – ČEZ which has dominant position on our market; nevertheless, it is industry which plays the most significant role. It is also necessary to say that there is a reduction of pollutant emissions in the sector of industry and therefore the energy industry is a sector in which the improvement is being reached thanks to the share of renewable energy resources. Thus the balance is improving in spite of the fact that there were few precipitations last year which caused the year-to-year decline of energy production from renewable resources. They are water power stations that have the greatest share in the energy production from renewable resources. The total share is about 5%. Once it is round about 20% those year-to-year deviations will not be so significant.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Hospodářské noviny.

Petr Veikrt, Hospodářské noviny daily: Good afternoon, I would like to ask Mr. Minister Bursík about his standpoint to the appeal of the Transport Association which called on the government to cease approval procedures of laws which would make operation of firms more expensive. They mentioned for example reduction of CO2 emissions, the legislation concerning chemical industry, reduction of truck transport and others. Thank you.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: It is an opinion of Mr. Mír; we know that he repeatedly affirms that the entire system of tradable emission permits is nonsense. It is an extreme opinion. It is necessary to say that the European policy of climate protection is based just on evaluation of CO2. The philosophy of the directive on tradable emission vouchers will lead to the situation when firms will not get vouchers free of charge but they will have to buy them in auctions. Thus the price of vouchers and CO2 will increase which will result in modernization of the European economy. The objective is to introduce this market worldwide. This is the European mainstream; however the government is of the same opinion. We were debating for about one hour and a half at the Government Committee for the EU on the mandate for the Prime Minister for today's and tomorrow's session of the EU Council where that energy-climatic package would be discussed and the stand of the government regarding this issue differs from that of the Transport Association. In other words, I regard it as an opinion in the discussion; nevertheless, the policy of the European Commission and our presidency diametrically differ from that opinion.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Deník daily.

Vojtěch Janeba, Deník daily: I have a question to the Minister of Agriculture regarding that settlement on the D1 motorway with Mrs. Havránková. I would like to know why just those 250 hectares were offered, what their market price is like and where they are situated.

Petr Gandalovič, Minister of Agriculture: Those pieces of land are situated north of Hradec Králové. It is a farming land, which means that it would be difficult to set the market price. The valuation price is from five to eight crowns per square meter. As to those pieces of land of Mrs. Havránková, they are building sites, not farming land, and their price is around 1000 crowns per square meter.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I would like to add something; in the material there is stated that Mrs. Havránková will get 253 hectares free of charge. The value of this land is 55 million crowns according to the statement of the Ministry of Agriculture. The value of those 10 hectares of hers is about 106 million crowns.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Ask questions please.

Martina Spěváčková, Z1 TV: I would like to know your opinion concerning the proposal of the Social Democratic Party for the vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies. Thank you.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I think that it is such an evergreen of our opposition; it is always trying to evoke disputes, when it wants citizens not to pay attention to a certain issue, instead of paying attention to a problem. So, they prefer to evoke the vote of confidence between the first and second round of senatorial elections and thus to increase their chance avoiding consideration on qualities of the individual candidates. Therefore I regard it as only a political gesture which diverts us to a different direction now, when all of us pay attention to the preparation of the Czech presidency. I am of the opinion that it is definitely just a political step which will cost some money instead of bringing something positive effect in time of finish of our preparations for the Czech presidency.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the Deputy Prime Minister will add something.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: I, as the chairman of the coalition party, will add something to it. I have been travelling all over the Czech Republic recently and I have registered one significant contrast. When I was leading a debate with citizens, nearly everybody pointed out regional issues, local issues. Citizens regarded the election as regional elections and they sent their deputies to the Senate and expected that these senators would represent their region in the Senate. I also noticed that our republic was flooded with billboards and it looked as if these elections had been a referendum on the continuation of work of this government; whether it was allowed to continue or not. The Social Democratic Party now mobilizes citizens and it tries to persuade them that it is a referendum on this government. That proposal of the Social Democratic Party for the vote of confidence between two rounds of senatorial elections is in this context. I regard it as an attempt to influence voters to such an extent that they will not regard these elections as regional or senatorial election but as general elections. It is necessary to say that that twenty-year-long experience with democracy gives people sufficient knowledge on democratic institutions and on importance of elections. Therefore, it is a display of marked underestimation of our citizens from the side of the Social Democratic Party. I do not think that this step, that vote of confidence between two rounds of senatorial elections will influence people. I expect them to remain sane. I am of the opinion that voters will rather seek a different alternative that the existing opposition which can only criticize and which is not able to offer its own alternatives or scenarios and which does not respect the fact that the Czech Republic will preside over the UE Council in a short time. The Social Democratic Party do not respond to repeated appeals for certain kind of armistice, so that all the political parties would reach an agreement on those crucial issues which are connected with the Czech presidency, because all of us represent the Czech Republic - not only the coalition but also the opposition.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I just add to it one more aspect which crossed my mind when my colleague was explaining his view. The Social Democratic Party head towards a single centralized power in this state, because if it wins the elections then the significant members of the party, chairmen of committees and influential deputies will become regional commissioners and they will concurrently remain deputies, and I am of the opinion that it would be against the sense of the law, against the sense of regional elections. Regions are very autonomous. It will be very interesting how the individual parts of power will be mixed, because influential deputies who run for regional commissioners will become regional commissioners.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Právo, please.

Jitka Götzová, Právo daily: I would still ask Mr. Gandalovič, as the Deputy Chairman of the ODS, to express his view. Thank you.

Petr Gandalovič, Minister of Agriculture: I will express my view with pleasure; nevertheless, do not expect any special statement. We regard as absolutely irresponsible to propose the vote of confidence now when only several weeks remain until the EU presidency and you are certainly informed on the volume of work which is connected with it. And the fact that nearly one half of members of the government is in Brussels today may serve as evidence. We are intensively involved in preparation of the presidency and such a destabilization will impair interests of the Czech Republic.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Are there any further questions? Thank you for your attention and good-bye.

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