Petr Fiala, the Czech politician seeking to lead his country’s next government, says he won’t accept the proposed draft budget for 2022 and pledged to draw up a new plan with a smaller deficit.
The Czech Republic is preparing for a transfer of power after billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis unexpectedly lost the Oct. 8-9 elections. A group of five center-right parties won a combined majority in the ballot and they are negotiating to form a coalition government without Babis’s party.
Read more: Billionaire Czech Premier to Step Aside After Ballot Defeat
Reducing state debt will be a top priority for the future coalition, according to Fiala, the leader of Civic Democrats, the biggest party in the anti-Babis alliance. Speaking on public TV on Sunday, he said the next government will cut the 2022 deficit below 300 billion koruna ($14 billion), from the 377 billion-koruna shortfall outlined in Babis’s last fiscal draft.
“We cannot support this budget because we would be knowingly supporting a further increase in inflation,” Fiala said, blaming the current spike in consumer prices on Babis’s policies. Fiala also reiterated his party won’t raise taxes and will cut state spending to achieve its budget goals.
Rejecting the current budget draft means the Czech Republic will almost certainly start next year with a provisional budget, according to Fiala. That would mean capping spending at levels from this year. The future cabinet should be able to prepare a proper budget by the end of February, Fiala said.
The exact timetable will depend on when President Milos Zeman appoints the next cabinet, a prospect thrown into doubt after Zeman was taken to an intensive-care unit in a Prague hospital a week ago. Zeman’s office has declined to give details about his condition, for which it has been criticized by political parties and local media.
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