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Prague old town

Prague gamifies its 2021 budget

Prague gamifies its 2021 budget

A new game allows users to make important decisions on a significantly reduced local budget

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic led to many individuals and businesses losing their sources of revenue or seeing them considerably reduced. But the situation is equally challenging for local governments: according to the estimates, the city of Prague will lose up to 7 billion crowns (38 million euros) in 2021 alone, due to the crisis. Furthermore, a governmental proposal on tax changes affecting municipal budgets will erase another 2.5 billion crowns from the city budget.

To visually demonstrate the challenges related to operating with 15% less tax revenue next year, Prague administration launched a new game. Every resident can turn into a city councillor for a while and decide which projects shall wait for better days or who should pay more for living and working in the Czech capital.

Gambling with the budget of Prague – not fun, but educational

In 2021 Prague will be losing about 9.5 billion of its budget revenues, which leaves it with just 60 billion crowns. According to the municipal website, this involves significant cuts on current operating expenses and on planned investments and city services.

To clearly illustrate what a city deprived of so much money will look like, Prague has launched Rozpoctovy hazard (which translates as budget gambling). On this website (available in Czech only), users can test their financial management skills and learn more about how the municipal budget works.

Users can select which planned projects (among which there is infrastructure, Metro line D tunnels, revitalisation of urban spaces and trees planting) to pass over; to dismiss part of the city administration or to reduce teachers’ salaries; to delay the introduction or upgrade of digital services; or even deprive zoo animals from food. Alternatively, players can burden commuters with increased public transport or parking fees, among others.

Once the necessary economies are achieved, each player can share their results on social media.

"The loss of a substantial part of city revenues due to the ODS and ANO votes is really a big problem. We try to bring it closer to people in an interactive way. Anyone can now join this fast and fun clicking game. But the debate over the real cuts in the city budget is less amusingthe mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib was quoted saying.

Finally, the city authorities pointed out that they do not plan to increase the price of public transport or parking, nor to stop investments. To manage the new situation, they foresee cuts in operating expenses and taking loans for key investments, instead.

The game, therefore, has more of an illustrative purpose and those interested in the details of city spending, should check it out on the CityVizor portal.

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