Fiala Calls For Public To Limit Use of Energy, and State To Lead By Example
PM Petr Fiala promised that the public sector would set a good example by restricting energy use. Photo credit: vlada.cz.
Prague, Sept 19 (CTK) – In a televised address yesterday, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called on Czechs to use gas and electric power prudently to save their own money and help lower state expenditures, while also helping the Czech economy. He added that the state would set a positive example by economising on the use of energy.
Fiala (ODS) urged cabinet ministers, firms, and households to each consider whether they are using energy correctly. and to seek ways to prevent the waste of energy.
He said he would consistently insist on the state and its institutions to set an example in this respect.
The government’s recent decision to cap the prices of energy was not easy, he said.
“Over CZK 100 billion is involved, which we have to get from somewhere. We don’t want to borrow money once again, as previous cabinets did repeatedly,” Fiala said.
Besides using the planned windfall tax, targeting extraordinary profits among energy companies, the state should finance the electricity and gas price caps from increased dividends from state-controlled companies, including the CEZ energy provider, Fiala said.
Earlier this week, the cabinet pushed an amendment to the energy law through the Chamber of Deputies, allowing it to set the maximum prices of gas and electric energy for customers in the circumstances of an extraordinary market situation. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by President Milos Zeman.
The cabinet subsequently plans to cap the electric power price at six crowns per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity and at three crowns per kWh for gas.
Fiala said that by giving his speech today, he wanted to calm people’s doubts about whether they could cope with the upcoming winter season amid rising energy prices.
Setting a maximum possible price gives certainty to everyone, he said, also listing a series of other government measures to address the price rise. He called on the public to take interest in possible ways for them to use the aid.
The soaring price of energy in late August is a direct consequence of Russia’s economic war against the West, said Fiala.
“Its goal is to threaten the social certainties of people in European countries, paralyse our economies, undermine citizens’ trust in the state and democracy itself, and pit European countries against each other,” he said. However, he added, the opposite has come true, as the situation has united EU member states.
Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura (ODS) previously said that the budget impact of the price cap will be CZK 130 billion at maximum. For this purpose, the state will use revenues mobilised from all state companies, the planned windfall tax targeting extraordinary profits, and revenues from the sale of carbon credits.
Fiala yesterday mentioned a sum of over CZK 100 billion. He said the state would not borrow money in relation to this; the government wants to use the windfall tax and dividends from state-controlled companies.
There is no simple way out of the current crisis, he said.
“To change the Czech energy industry, build new infrastructure – all this takes long months and years. That is why we are working hard on it,” he said, mentioning steps already taken such as the filling of gas storage capacity and creation of reserves, and also the progress made towards the extension of the Dukovany nuclear power plant in South Moravia.
“We are doing our utmost for the Czech Republic to become a sovereign energy state as quickly as possible. This is the only way for us to get out of the danger of the energy crisis truly and definitively,” he said.
Everybody can help by seeking ways to save and to use energy efficiently. Reasonable use of energy could help customers save their own money, and would reduce state budget expenditures and therefore help the economy, Fiala said.
“I want to beg you to have this in mind in the months to come and to try to act accordingly. I can promise that I will consistently insist on the state and its institutions setting an example in this respect,” he said in the speech, broadcast by public Czech Television, commercial TV Nova and FTV Prima, and public Czech Radio.
Opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura said Fiala’s speech was stupid and unnecessary, has opposition leader Andrej Babis (ANO) described the speech as Fiala’s self-congratulation.