According to the Ministry of Finance, the requirement is based not only on the need to seek savings, but also on the assumption that the state of emergency has triggered changes that will enable ministries to save. For example, the resort mentions the reduction of contacts since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in March this year, which, among other things, taught employees to communicate better at a distance. And that, said, could reduce spending significantly.
Salary – adjusted operating expenses
“We believe that these changes should be permanently implemented in official processes,” says Finance Ministry spokesman Tomáš Weiss. According to him, however, the financial plans of most ministries did not provide for savings in their own operations – ie in energy, rent or the administration of the office -. On the contrary. “In the draft budget for 2021, most of them demanded an increase in operating expenditure,” Weiss added.
For example, the Ministry of Transport, led by Karel Havlíček (for YES), wanted to increase these expenditures by up to a third. It counted on approximately 92 million crowns for 2021, while this year it is 63 million.
It should be emphasized that the figures in the first part of this text are adjusted for the salaries of the staff covered by the second part of the article.
The increase in expenditures – albeit a slight one – is also foreseen by the Ministry of Transport, which is also headed by Havlíček, and which wants to increase the budget for its operation from 240 to 260 million. The Ministry of Culture headed by Lubomír Zaorálek (ČSSD) then from approximately 65 to 75 million.
However, they most likely cannot count on such a generous idea. In August, the Ministry of Finance sent an appeal to the ministries to reduce operating expenses by 10 percent, and the September meeting of ministry representatives with the head of finance Alena Schillerová (ANO) brought a compromise. “The result of these negotiations is an overall reduction in operating expenses across chapters of about five percent,” Weiss told Aktuálně.cz.
However, the final figures devoted to operating costs next year will be definitively known only after the approval of the state budget.
Savings on travel, technology and energy
However, savings will be inevitable. “We are planning them in the area of travel, restrictions on holding cultural and social events,” said Zuzana Štíchová, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose department spends almost two and a half billion a year on operating costs.
The Ministry of Finance also wants to save on travel. And also for the operation of information and communication technologies or in the field of small computer technology.
According to spokeswoman Petra Hrušková, the Resort Resort will save on energy, where it has managed to compete for lower rates. It will pay 17 million less for electricity and natural gas next year than this year. The Ministry of Labor will focus on savings through greater digitization of the office and the preference for videoconferencing over face-to-face meetings.
We are at the very limit of our possibilities, sounds from some resorts
However, a number of ministries claim that they will hardly fit into their operating expenditures at this moment and cannot imagine their further reduction. Randomly: “The Ministry of the Interior is currently, and after repeated waves of shortening, at the very limit of its possibilities,” Hana Malá, a spokeswoman for the ministry, wrote to Aktuálně.cz. For this year, the interior cost almost four billion crowns for operating costs.
A spokesman for Vladimír Řepka, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, similarly said that “a large part of operating expenses is mandatory (binding) in nature, where there is not much room for savings.” According to him, the resort has already saved in recent years. Even so, it gives almost six billion crowns for its operation in 2020.
The Ministry of Transport does not see much room for cost reduction either. However, this costs operating expenses just over 63 million crowns. “In view of the increase in the inflation rate and the ever-rising price for services, it is not possible in our case to reduce these expenses. These are services necessary for the day-to-day operation of the Ministry of Transport building,” spokesman František Jemelka wrote.
The Ministry of Health did not report on the daily Aktuálně.cz even after numerous requests on how the operating costs of the Ministry of Health will develop. In the last ten years, however, this item in his budget has decreased significantly. In 2010, they amounted to approximately one billion and a half, five years later, especially due to a drastic reduction in the cost of material consumption by almost a billion less, according to data on the website of the state treasury.
Billions in lawyers’ fees, rentals and Czech language courses
In 2020, the already mentioned Ministry of Justice reports the highest operating costs with its almost six billion crowns. According to spokesman Vladimír Řepka, most of the money goes to mandatory expenses, which include, for example, fees for appointed lawyers, experts and interpreters, as well as the purchase of food, medicine, linen, clothing and footwear within the Prison Service of the Czech Republic.
In this respect, the Ministry of the Interior is in second place with almost four billion crowns. It spends the most money on data boxes, the production of personal and travel documents or a foreigner’s agenda.
For almost all resorts, the most expensive items are IT services, rent or repair of buildings. The Ministry of Education gave the most money after arranging language courses for asylum seekers, last year it cost almost twelve million crowns, said spokeswoman Alena Lednová.
We will not dismiss, the ministry says
Despite the required savings, one thing is clear, larger redundancies of ministry officials are not planned yet. This is despite the fact that some ministries pay more than a billion crowns in their salaries. In the last ten years, of course, this number has risen sharply in most ministries.
Salaries of employees
For example, in the case of the Ministry of Finance, money for officials’ salaries has risen from around 640 million in 2010 to 964 million this year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recorded a similar increase from 693 million to 996 million, and the Ministry of Transport then spent 280 million on its staff, compared to 212 million ten years ago.
Most ministries claim that they have made redundancies several times in recent years and do not plan to do so in the near future. “The ministry, led by the current minister Jan Hamáček, has made several waves of deleting official tables, and today it is on the verge of the ministry’s ability to manage the entire agenda with the current staffing,” said the Ministry of the Interior.
However, ministries of education, labor or agriculture are more cautious. According to them, they will decide on the dismissal or non-dismissal of employees only after the final debates on the state budget.
All the above-mentioned items were obtained by the daily Aktuálně.cz using a questionnaire between ministries. He drew the missing data on the operating costs of the Ministry of Education and the expenditures and salaries at the Ministry of Health, which did not answer the questions sent, from freely accessible information on the website of the State Treasury.
Source: Ministry of the Czech Republic, State Treasury, Aktuálně.cz