It appears that old-age pensioners in the Czech Republic will be able to look forward to CZK 300 more a month starting from next year. The coalition parties have taken potshots at each other over who can take the credit, though ahead of a vote this week they are in broad agreement on the increase.
The three parties in the Czech coalition government had previously agreed to raise old-age pensions by CZK 200 from January. However, ahead of a debate on the issue they all said at the weekend that they were now in favour of a CZK 300 rise.
Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats said his colleagues would back such an increase, which had been proposed by the party’s minister for labour and social affairs, Michaela Marksová.
“In my view this is a more advantageous alternative for pensioners than an average CZK 200 a month increase and a one-off contribution of CZK 1,200. So we support index-linking of CZK 300 crowns. I’m also glad that in recent months the Social Democrats have succeeded in shaping the character of the budget currently being prepared. Because we think that when the economy is going well that people should benefit.”
Minister Marksová shot back that Mr. Babiš had only actually wanted to sanction a CZK 200 increase.
For his part, Mr. Babiš said he had wanted to bring in a CZK 300 rise earlier this year. However, the ANO chief said, the other coalition partners had made that impossible thanks to competing budget demands – and suggested that the Social Democrats were now playacting.
“If the Social Democrats want to play a game today that Mrs. Marksová wants CZK 300, I want CZK 300 too. At the next government meeting I will put forward a change to the budget under which pensioners will actually get CZK 300.”
Petr Fiala of the opposition Civic Democrats told Czech Television that he welcomed the proposed move. But the government still needs to address other issues surrounding pensions, he said.
“Of course they should index-link pensions. The question is how. We don’t want to see percentage index-linking creating gaps between individual groups of pensioners. But still it doesn’t deal with the basic problem of how we will pay for pensions in the future. Because the coalition have abolished some pension reforms, like the second pillar of the pension system, without putting forward their own solutions.”
The coalition partners are expected to discuss the pension increase at a meeting on Wednesday this week.