Final Word from Tuesday, May 7, 2002

At the end of last year, the national debt stood at Kč 404.5bn ($13bn), and when privatization proceeds aren't counted in, the finance ministry expects a budget deficit this year of Kč 207.8bn. Ivan Pilip of US-DEU blames ČSSD for doubling the debt during its four years in office. ODS says today in new ads that the Zeman cabinet has obligated each family to pay Kč 100,000 in added debt. Premier Miloš Zeman, in turn, blames 80% of the rise in the debt on the "bank socialism" of the past cabinets. Bad loans that originally weren't part of the national debt had to be added in when the poorly managed state-owned banks were privatized and the loans were moved to Konsolidační banka, he says. Each party is tossing the national debt around like a hot potato, and no party is admitting that they all share roughly the same amount of responsibility for it.


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