The state collected over one trillion crowns in taxes last year, which is
62 billion more than in the previous year, the Czech News Agency reported
According to the state’s final account, presented by the government in the Lower House of Parliament, some 727 billion crowns ended up in the state budget and 295 billion crowns were earmarked for regions and municipalities. Nearly 20 billion crowns went to the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure. Collection of VAT and personal income tax recorded the steepest growth in 2018.
The Senate has established a special commission to assess the European
Commission audits concerning Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's suspected
conflict of interest which could mean that the Czech Republic might have to
return close to half a billion crowns in EU subsidies.
The commission, headed by Zdeněk Nytra from the Civic Democrats' senators' group, does not have the status of an investigative body, it will merely analyse available information on the case.
The two EC audits, which are both preliminary, claim that the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest due to continued influence on the agro-chemical business conglomerate Agrofert which he established and later put in trust funds in order to comply with a strict new conflict of interests law.
Prime Minister Babiš has denied any wrongdoing, saying he fully adhered to Czech law.
Following a preliminary audit from the European Commission, which found the
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to be in a conflict of interest due to
the structure of the trust funds currently owning his former company, the
opposition has proposed a Senate commission on the matter. It will be made
up of two members from each party in the upper house and give an official
verdict on the matter at the end of January.
Opposition politicians have stressed the commission’s task will not be to evaluate the audit, but to interview relevant actors and come up with its own position, both on the alleged conflict of interests of the prime minister and the Minister of Agriculture Miroslav Toman, who was mentioned in a second European Commission audit.
The Senate is set to vote on the proposal on Thursday.
Opposition MPs will jointly file a complaint with the Constitutional Court
against a law pushed through by ANO, the Social Democrats and the
Communists to tax church restitutions.
The law which would tax money being paid out to churches for property seized by the Communists, which the state can no longer return, is to come into force at the beginning of 2020. The complaint was signed by 62 right-wing deputies.
The tax bill was vetoed by the Senate as “unconstitutional” but the veto was later overturned by the lower house and the bill was signed into law by President Zeman. Its supporters argue that the sum being returned to churches is “overinflated”, critics argue it is wrong, in principle, to tax stolen property on its return.
Aside from returning land and property, the restitution law approved in 2013, counts on paying church organisations 59 billion crowns divided into annual payments over a period of 30 years. If taxed, the pay-outs would be reduced to 48 billion.
Ahead of the 30th anniversary of China’s crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, Radio Prague spoke to Filip Jirouš, coordinator the China-watching think tank Sinopsis, about the politics behind some of the more controversial aspects of business dealings between the countries. A harsh critic of China’s sweeping Belt and Road Initiative, to which the Czech Republic has signed on, and the main Chinese investment vehicle here, CEFC, he further argues allowing Huawei to roll out the 5G network would be a disaster.
The subject of MPs’ travel expenses is in the spotlight after Czech Radio reported that a group of legislators visited an exotic tourist destination while on a taxpayer-funded trip to Peru. The politicians say they themselves purchased tickets to enter Machu Picchu. However, their hotels and flights were covered by the Chamber of Deputies.
Former Social Democratic Party deputy Petr Wolf, who has been on the run
since 2013, when he was convicted of subsidy fraud, is hiding in Paraguay,
Czech Television reported citing police sources.
The police reportedly lost trace of him in Paraguay. Although an international arrest warrant has been issued on him, Wolf has so far avoided detention.
The million crown fine meted out by the court was paid in instalments from different destinations, even while the former MP was on the run.
President Miloš Zeman has signed into law a controversial proposal to tax
money paid to religious groups in compensation for property seized under
The tax is due to take effect on January 1, 2020. But the Constitutional Court may well strike it down before the first tax payment come due the following year.
In late April, MPs overrode a veto by the Senate to tax the restitution income of 16 Czech churches and a Jewish federation which had their property seized by the former Communist regime.
Critics say the law, proposed by the Communists, is unconstitutional and unethical. The religious institutions had been awarded money in cases where the confiscated property could not be returned to its rightful owners.
The Senate has moved to scrap a law according to which large retail outlets
must remain closed on selected public holidays. The proposal was included
in an amendment to the law which will now go back to the Chamber of
The lower house previously rejected a similar proposal including a proposal for the ban to be extended to all public holidays. The law, which went into force in 2016 bans outlets bigger than 200 square metres from selling goods on eight public holidays of the year, among the October 28, Christmas, Easter Monday and May 8.
It is still vehemently opposed by the Czech Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Trade and Tourism which says it discriminates large sales outlets.
The head of the Czech Business and Trade Association Marta Nováková says large retail stores lose billions of crowns in profits on each public holiday on which they are forced to close their doors.
President Miloš Zeman has signed legislation enabling the state to tax
church restitutions, according to an official press release from Prague
Castle. Communist deputies say the highly controversial law, which had to
go through a second vote in the Chamber of Deputies in late April after it
was vetoed in the upper-house, could retain CZK 380 million from the annual
CZK 2 billion pay-outs the state has pledged to undertake until 2030.
Opposition parties including the Mayors and Independents and the Christian Democrats are planning to issue a complaint to the Constitutional Court, which they hope will invalidate the legislation.
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