Almost 17,900 new book titles were published in the Czech Republic in 2013, an increase of around 600 on the previous year, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday. The figures coincide with the opening of the Czech Republic’s flagship annual book fair, Book World, in Prague on Thursday. New titles peaked in the Czech Republic in 2011 with almost 19,000 being published. Since then the sector has been hit by the imposition of a higher rate of Value Added Tax rate on books and increased costs. The current centre-left coalition government has promised to put books back into a lower VAT band.
More than 300 Czech bookshops were on Wednesday offering 15 percent reductions on their prices as part of a campaign to cut Value Added Tax on books. The Association of Czech Book Sellers and Publishers has welcomed the government’s proposal to cut the current 15 percent VAT rate on books to 10 percent but says that it still believes that the right rate should be 5 percent. The association says a 10 percent rate would still leave the Czech sales tax on books higher than in most other European countries.
The Czech coalition parties have approved plans to cut the VAT rate on drugs, medicine, diapers and food for infants from 15 to 10 percent as of 2015. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the Finance Ministry would now incorporate the move into the draft of next year’s state budget; it is estimated that the lower VAT rate would cost the budget several billion crowns. The Czech government is yet to discuss the plan with the European Commission; it will consider plans for further cuts of the VAT rate only after measures to improve VAT collection are implemented, according to the prime minister.
The Czech Finance Ministry’s plans to cut the two existing VAT rates by one percent to 20 and 14 percent, respectively, in 2016 have not been approved by the coalition parties and would have an disproportionate impact on the state budget, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said. Mr Sobotka’s remarks came in a reaction to the daily Mladá fronta Dnes’ report on Wednesday detailing the plans. The Finance Ministry would also like to introduce a third, 10-percent VAT rate next year that would apply to drugs, books, and baby food; the prime minister said this was a reasonable compromise.
Czech consumers can look forward to having more change in their pockets after shopping trips if reported plans for the phase in of three levels of Value Added Tax come true. A preliminary document outlining the changes has already been drawn up by the finance ministry but still needs to be approved by the government by the end of the month. More
The Association of Czech booksellers and publishers has launched a new campaign called ‘Books without VAT’ in order to drum up support for the existing 15 percent rate to be slashed. The centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka is due to discuss the matter, possibly lowering the VAT on books and some other items to as little as five percent. More
The Czech public finance deficit fell in 2013 to 1.44 percent of Gross Domestic Product from 4.2 percent in 2012, the Czech Statistics Office announced on Tuesday. That performance would put the country in line to join the euro zone on the public deficit criterion for the first time since 2008. The government is counting on a public deficit below 3.0 percent this year as well. In separate figures, the office revised downwards its previous growth figure for the last quarter of 2013 to 1.2 percent year on year and 1.8 percent quarter on quarter. The Czech economy shrunk by 0.9 percent over the whole year.
The Finance Ministry is planning to introduce a third rate of value added tax in 2015, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said. The rate, whose level has not yet been determined, should be lower than the existing rates of 21 and 15 percent, respectively, and should apply to drugs, books, and baby food. The Finance Ministry also wants to make tax collection more effective by establishing a central registry of bank accounts and retail receipts. Details of the Finance Ministry’s plans are yet to be debated within the coalition parties; for its part, the opposition said they would increase the overall tax burden and would make tax evasion easier.
The Czech economy grew faster in the last quarter of 2013 than originally predicted with a GDP growth of 1.9 percent against the previous quarter. This constituted a 1.3 percent expansion year on year. In the whole of last year, the GDP contracted by 0.9 percent which was also a better figure than the original estimate. The country came out a drawn-out recession only last year and the boost in growth at the end of 2013 came after the central bank intervened massively to weaken the crown as a means of fighting deflation risks. The forex interventions encouraged consumer spending with shoppers trying to get ahead of expected price rises this year due to costlier imports.
The police have charged former prime minister Petr Nečas with corruption. The case is related to a bribery scandal which toppled his government last June and investigators say it could re-define the rules of political deal-making. Mr Nečas, meanwhile, considers the charges a revenge for a lawsuit he filed against the police. More