PM Fiala: Energy prices will be a shock, but we won't let you down

In an extraordinary televised address, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Czechia must get rid of its dependence on Russia.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 23.06.2022 10:06:00 (updated on 23.06.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prime Minister Petr Fiala in a special television speech last night said that the Czech state is ready for the second half of the difficult year. He added that the state is here to offer a helping hand in such an extraordinary situation, the Czech News Agency (ČTK) reported.

Fiala said he is aware of people’s fears but believes that "we will manage everything together."

He said Russia wants to make us weak to blackmail us. Russia uses food market disruption and European reliance on its gas and oil as weapons, he pointed out.

Speech by Prime Minister Petr Fiala on the current political and economic situation

Fiala promised that if a critical scenario unfolded next winter, the Czech government will be able to secure gas for all households in the country. He said the situation is bad also due to the short-sighted politics of the previous government of Andrej Babiš. He said Czechia became fully dependent on Russian gas because of the previous government of Andrej Babiš.

Fiala said Czechia now has three fundamental tasks: secure enough gas for the next winter, get rid of the reliance on Russia and gain energy sovereignty, and help people and firms cope with the price shock they will face in the following months in connection with energies.

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"The growth in energy prices that will come in the next months will be a shock for many of you. The state does not have enough money for a full blanket compensation for this growth for everybody. No European state does it. But with all the steps I mentioned, we clearly say: we won’t let you down," Fiala said.

"The government will set aside CZK 66 billion to help households and companies in the coming heating season," PM wrote on Twitter.

He said in the speech the Czech state debt increased as steeply as never before under Babiš’s government, which contributed to the unprecedentedly high prices.

"Unfortunately, the Czech Republic is one of the few countries whose dependency is extremely high in this respect. And it is not only because we were a part of the Soviet bloc once. It is a direct consequence of how the previous governments acted, especially of the government of Andrej Babiš," Fiala said.

"Five years ago, roughly one-fourth of the gas was delivered from Norway, from a safe Western country. The previous government did not do anything to maintain these deliveries and guaranteed the energy security of the Czech Republic. On the contrary, it allowed the country to be nearly absolutely dependent on Putin’s Russia in gas deliveries. It is hard to say now whether it was a mistake or an intention," he said.

Babiš dismissed the criticism. "All these are lies. Lies about inflation, about indebtedness, energy security," the former prime minister told Czech Television.

Fiala said that two-thirds of the capacity of Czech gas containers are full now, which was never the case at this time of the year in the past.

He called on people not to hesitate to apply for individual support in form of the housing benefit. He said this application process was markedly simplified in the last few weeks.

The opposition says the effort of Fiala’s government to lower the impacts of the sharp increase in energy prices and fuel is insufficient.

Several days before the beginning of the Czech EU presidency, the government also faces criticism in connection with a corruption case concerning the Prague Public Transport Company, over which Education Minister Petr Gazdík resigned. After talks of the leaders of the five government parties on Tuesday, Fiala said he sees no reason for a government reshuffle.

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