The Army will eventually lose 10 billion. The Government succumbed to the communist request

The Army will eventually lose 10 billion. The Government succumbed to the communist request
21 / 12 / 2020, 10:00

The state budget for next year can be approved, because the Government parties ANO and ČSSD finally accepted the communist request to take 10 billion crowns from the budget chapter of the Ministry of Defense, and allocate it to the reserve to „fight the coronavirus pandemic.“

On Friday morning, during the key vote on the state budget for next year, the Government had not yet secured the necessary enough votes to approve the key law for 2021. A few weeks ago, the communist party expressed a categorical requirement to take CZK 10 billion from the Ministry of Defense and to transfer it to the budget reserve. Negotiations took place between Finance Minister Alena Schillerová and the communist chairman Vojtěch Filip last week, but ended in vain because the Minister of Finance rejected the communist demand, according to her official statement.

See also: The Communist Party insists on reducing the defense budget – the Governement refuses to comply

This is no longer the case today, as the head of the budget committee, Miloslava Vostrá (communist party), pushed for the transfer of 10 billion crowns, originally intended for the Ministry of Defense, to the budget reserve. Members of ANO, the ČSSD and the communists then voted in favor of the proposal, and a budget with a deficit of 320 billion crowns could therefore be approved. The Government parties thus succumbed to the communist request. Despite assuring the Army before the key vote on Friday that it would not happen and that the money would remain with the defense budget.

Jana Černochová, Chairwoman of the Defense Committee, firmly criticized the outcome: "The Government has fallen into its own trap when it relied on the communist voices. It is unacceptable that, 31 years after the restoration of freedom and democracy, the communists have torpedoed our defenses and our allied commitments, weakening our Army and dictating de facto its starvation. All this is not due to the necessary savings - in a budget of 1.8 trillion crowns and 300 billion CZK deficit, the amount of 10 billion CZK plays no role - but in the interests of countries that are hostile to the Western world, NATO and our allies, and whose the communists are faithful comrades. This reality is disgusting and will have serious consequences, because it will jeopardize the fundamental modernization projects that the Czech Army has before it. "

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš also opposed the cuts in the defense budget several times before. At the Army command assembly in November, he clearly stood up for the Army and, on the contrary, criticized the communist request. He said he "rejected any attempt not to increase the budget." A month later, everything is different.

See also: Czech defence budget to reach CZK 75.5 billion for 2020 - is it enough?

In November, also the Defense Minister Lubomír Metnar said that if there was a cut in the ministry's budget, he would „of course“ resign. "In case I see that there are really cuts, I will take a personal stand and take personal responsibility." He now said: "I do not intend to resign because of the approved budget. I expect 10 billion to return to the defense budget at the beginning of the year. I would like to reassure our allies, partners, that we will live up to our commitments, that we will continue to fulfill them, and that all armaments projects and modernization of the Army will continue as we have planned it."

The Army’s newly set budget for next year, i.e. 75.4 billion, is lower than the budget approved for this year and does not appear to fulfill the Government's promise from the program's statement that it will spend 1.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

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