Prague - Czech President Milos Zeman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) today cut a state bond worth one million crowns into pieces in a symbolic act of cutting the state debt.
Prezident Miloš Zeman (vlevo) a ministr financí Andrej Babiš představili 17. června v Praze, jak se posílí investiční výdaje státu. Tématem byla také otázka státního dluhu. ČTK Doležal Michal
Zeman regularly sends one-third of his monthly salary (60,000 crowns) to his foundation aimed at reducing the state debt. Babis, owner of a chemical, food-processing and farming holding, gave half a million crowns to Zeman´s foundation in April in reaction to Zeman´s call for a contribution.
"I of course know that the sum is only symbolic and will not solve the state debt," Zeman said.
Zeman said his effort at lowering the debt is a moral call or in some cases a moral slap in the face to those who were responsible for the increase in the state debt in the past.
He said he has been contributing also because he feels responsible since he was prime minister in 1998-2002.
Zeman said there were over three million crowns in his foundation´s account now.
Babis said the Czech state debt was 1,683 billion crowns in 2013, while in 1993 it had been 160 billion crowns. The interests amounted to about 50 billion crowns last year, he said.
He said the Czech debt is roughly 160,000 crowns per capita.
Babis said the debt started growing in the late 1990s. From 2009 to 2012 the state debt in the Czech Republic showed the steepest increase in the EU, he added.
Babis said the state debt might be paid from money gained thanks to privatisations. He said the present centre-left government does not plan any privatisation, but that he would like to have some proposals make some propositions after a time.
He mentioned the Aeroholding state-run company focusing on air transport and services related to the Prague international airport.
Babis also said some real estate owned by the state could be sold.
He said the state budget deficit would reach 100 billion crowns in 2015 and also in 2016.