The lower house of Parliament is expected to approve a government tax
package at its session starting on Tuesday. It includes a proposal to raise
taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, and an increase in parental
The basic parental allowance could rise from 80,000 crowns to 300,000 crowns. MPs are also due to start discuss the draft state budget for 2020, which counts on a 40 billion crown deficit.
In the initial round, MPs will approve the budget’s basic parameters, i.e. revenue, expenditure and deficit. MPs have tabled dozens of amendments to the tax package, only some of which the Committee on Budgets has supported thus far.
On Friday, Prime Minister Andrei Babiš (ANO) and Communist party leader Vojtěch Filip agreed to allocate an additional 4.9 billion crowns for the health sector. Originally, 334 billion crowns was earmarked for the sector.
The ANO-appointed minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, says that if the
Social Democrats put forward a special tax on the banking sector it would
be in breach of the coalition agreement.
The latter party’s minister for labour and social affairs, Jana Maláčová, said last week that she would submit a bill on a banks tax herself if no agreement was reached with ANO on the matter.
Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Minster Schillerová said if her cabinet colleague actually put forward legislation to that effect it could spell the end of the coalition government.
Ms. Maláčová argues that Czech banks are making record profits.
The Czech Banking Association says 15 EU states have a bank sector tax.
Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček has said that any move by the president
to halt the possible prosecution of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš would be
inappropriate interference in the work of the judiciary and would violate
the principle that all citizens are equal before the law.
He did not comment on how the Social Democrats, a junior partner in the governing coalition, would respond to such a development.
Justice Minister Marie Benešová refused to comment on the president’s words or speculate about the possibility of such a thing happening.
The dispute over whether the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan
Konev should remain in its place should be settled by the inhabitants of
Prague 6 where it is located, Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček said in
a TV debate on Sunday. Mr. Hamáček said the dispute could be resolved in
a local referendum.
The fate of the statue has caused a rift between Prague and Moscow after it was repeatedly vandalized with red paint and the mayor of Prague 6, Ondřej Kolar, said it would be better to remove it altogether, ideally to the grounds of the Russian embassy.
Speaking to Russian journalists, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky compared Mr. Kolar to a leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party NSDAP.
The words provoked an angry response from Prague with Civic Democrat leader Petr Fiala saying the Czech foreign minister should summon the Russian ambassador to demand an explanation.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said he regretted the fact that the discussion surrounding the Konev statue has crossed the bounds of a rational debate. “I do not consider the statement of the Russian culture minister appropriate. I think an apology would help calm the situation, "Petříček said in a text message to the ctk news agency.
The lower house of Parliament will debate a Senate proposal to file a
constitutional complaint against President Miloš Zeman on September 26,
without any specific recommendation from the chamber’s Committee for
Legal Matters, the ctk news agency reported. The committee’s only
recommendation is that the debate should be public.
The proposal was approved by the Senate in July. If it is passed by the lower house, it will reach the Constitutional Court.
However, this is unlikely, due to the ruling ANO-Social Democrat coalition, supported by the Communist Party, holding a majority in the Chamber of Deputies.
The complaint is based on the president’s recent procrastination tactics in sacking and naming a new culture minister and his frequent unwillingness to adhere to the government’s set foreign policy line.
The municipal state attorney’s office in Prague is expected to say on
Monday whether criminal charges will be brought against the Czech prime
minister, Andrej Babiš, and members of his family. The police have
recommended that charges be filed over suspicion of abuse of EU subsidies
in connection with Stork’s Nest, a hotel and conference centre near
Prague. The prosecutor had until the end of August to come to a decision on
the matter. The case file is reported to contain 23,000 pages.
Some members of the junior party in government, the Social Democrats, have called for ANO leader Babiš to stand down. However, party chairman Jan Hamáček says the Social Democrats will remain in the coalition even if the PM is charged.
President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday appointed Lubomír Zaorálek to the post of culture minister, ending a drawn-out dispute over who should manage the arts portfolio. The seasoned Social Democrat, who has previously served as the country’s foreign minister, stressed the need to recognize the huge potential of the arts sphere and said he was not afraid to cross swords with the president in fulfilling his goals.
Individual ministries negotiated an overall increase in expenditures of
around 17.5 billion crowns in 2020 above the expenditures projected in the
June draft budget, Finance Minister Alena Schillerova told journalists
following a week of one-one-one meetings with cabinet minister.
Another 492 million is expected to be earmarked for digitization and IT projects.
Despite the increase in expenditures the budget deficit should not exceed 40 billion crowns.
According to the finance minister, higher spending will be made possible by the new macroeconomic forecast and savings in state debt payments.
Social Democratic Party leader Jan Hamáček has received full backing from
the party’s deputies’ group in the lower house over the manner in which
he handled the crisis surrounding the naming of a new culture minister.
Mr. Hamáček said after Friday’s meeting of the group that he was confident he still enjoyed strong backing from the party leadership and there would be no attempts to undermine party unity.
The Social Democrat leader recently came under fire from some regional party members who said he should have been more emphatic in defending the party’s position in talks with the prime minister and president and even made good on his threat to walk out of the coalition government.
Faced by an acute labour shortage, the Czech government is looking to attract more foreign workers and streamline the processing of issuing work permits. In recent years, the country has in particular turned to Ukraine to help fill the gap. The government wants to do the same for workers from EU hopefuls such as Montenegro, Moldova and Serbia, as well as India and other Asian countries.