Andrej Babiš at the EU summit in May via Wikimedia / Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

The Czech Republic will continue to invest in its people, says PM Babiš in New Year’s speech

Czechia is experiencing one of the most successful periods of its modern history, says its Prime Minister

Prague, Jan 1 (CTK) – The Czech government wants to continue investing in people in 2020, PM Andrej Babiš said in his New Year’s Day speech today, adding that Czechia is experiencing one of the most successful periods of its modern history and presents itself with self-confidence on the international scene.

In his first ever January 1 speech, Babiš (ANO) mentioned the passing of a construction bill as one of the key priorities, praised the expected contributions of digitisation and emphasised the importance of enhancing cyber security.

In the recent period of economic growth, the government decided to invest in people, who, in exchange, trust the government and raise their consumption, Babiš said.

In 2020, the government reckons with a further increase in pensions and wages. “We fulfil the promises we gave to you, and we will go on doing so,” he said.

Hinting at President Milos Zeman’s Christmas speech from December 26, Babiš said the cabinet has been working hard to remove the shortcomings that slow down the country.

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Zeman mentioned the sluggishness of court proceedings and construction processes as such shortcomings.

Babiš said the adoption of a new construction bill is crucial.

“This will probably be the most important topic in the Chamber of Deputies this year. Consensus of all parties is necessary. A single office, a single stamp – this is the main aim,” Babiš said, referring to the planned law’s goal to facilitate the construction projects’ approval process.

“Cyber security is very important as well,” Babiš continues.

As further priorities, he mentioned the enforceability of law, the tackling of the problem of distraints and the fight against providers of disadvantageous loans.

“Our country is experiencing one of its most successful and happiest periods of its modern history,” Babiš said, referring to the October improvement of the Czech ratings by the Moody’s agency, and to the ratings assessing the quality of life and the transparency and stability of the tax system.

According to Babiš, the Czech Republic need not fear a possible slowdown of the world economy.

“A shining period is ahead of us. We are the Czech Republic, a country for the future! The horrible situation from 2009, when, at the time of the economic cooldown, the government stifled the public budgets and took money away from people, thereby causing the economic problems to multiply and protract excessively, will never repeat under our government,” Babiš said.

The minority cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) was appointed in mid-2018 and has been propped-up by the Communists (KSCM) in parliament.

Babiš mentioned the National Investment Plan his cabinet released in mid-December. The plan’s list of 20,000 projects worth 8,000 billion crowns sums up the investment potential for the next 30 years.

“Imagine me being Harry Potter, having a magic stick and transforming all the planned projects into reality now. We would immediately become a second Switzerland,” Babiš said.

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He said he will urge individual ministers to work actively with the plan and try hard to have it come true.

People, on their part, should write to the government what in their opinion is missing in the plan and what is redundant in it, Babiš said, emphasising the importance of the investments in transport, hospitals, education, sports, the military and culture.

Climate change is a big topic a well, he continued.

“We are sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions, investing in renewable sources [of energy] and preparing for the end of the coal age,” he said.

The fight against drought is of first importance. “Irrespective of whether our southern neighbours like it or not, we have to invest money in energy security, which means nuclear energy. Otherwise we would not meet the climate goals. I am glad that we pushed through atom as a clean source at the recent [EU summit] in Brussels,” Babiš added.

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