MPs’ latest round of talks on the government’s consolidation package, which returns to the House of Commons on Friday, could drag on for weeks. Legislators can act on some set of measures, which should at least partially solve the public finances, only on certain days and at a certain time, the debate is not expected to be short. While the cabinet prepares for the moratorium, the opposition hopes to push some of its proposals into the package.
Specifically, MPs can only debate the package on the final, third reading between 9am and 2pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Any attempt by the government camp to extend these days and hours may be blocked by the opposition. For example, the head of the Chamber of Deputies, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, expects it to be relatively long.
“We will certainly discuss this third reading in a few weeks, that’s clear. But in the course of a few weeks, I hope that some kind of compromise will be reached with the opposition, in the sense that we will probably vote,” he said last weekend. He would welcome a coalition that avoids the practice of setting a specific time for voting.
Opposition Counter Proposals
At the same time, in recent days, as expected, the parliamentary budget committee rejected the coalition’s votes, rejecting almost all opposition amendments to the government’s consolidation package. Today, coalition representatives emphasized the negative views on the ANO and SPD proposals, which, with exceptions, would increase state budget expenditures. The committee made recommendations on individual proposals, of which eight dozen were submitted.
The opposition, however, wants to continue debating its proposals. “From the third reading, we promise a serious and substantive debate on our amendment proposals that will significantly reduce the negative effects of the package on the economy and public finances. The state of our economy, the inability of the Ministry of Finance to collect existing taxes or the unpreparedness of certain measures will provide important information to change the attitude of Coalition MPs. The last few days have brought. In the package. For example, in the case of contractors, there is a risk of hundreds of thousands of people going into the gray zone,” Alena Schillerová, head of the ANO delegation, told Echo24.
“I expect a long negotiation, as the government ignored not only the opinions of the opposition and our amendments, but also the opinions of employers, trade unions, professional associations and trade unions or municipalities. Today, the ANO movement alone represents the opinion of a third of the electorate and a significant part of the professional public, so we continue to defend its interests. Let’s protect,” Karel Havlicek, the movement’s vice president, said in a statement to editors.
The second opposition group, the SPD, is a bit more serious. “We cannot say whether we will stop it. We will talk a lot,” said its vice-president Radim Fiala, pointing out that the package replaces six dozen laws. “We’ll try to make sure you don’t approve,” he told Adam the Baker.
Humble did not mix with politicians
The vote on the package comes at a time when the National Budget Council (NRR) has criticized the state of public finances and the political system as it has come to a standstill. “According to the National Budget Council, fiscally irresponsible measures taken during the Covid crisis continue to affect the balance of Czech public finances,” NRR says in its report. However, the imbalance was deepened last year by new measures in response to rising prices of fuel and other energy products as a result of the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine.
NRR President Mojmír Hampl said at a press conference on Thursday that the Czech Republic is at a crossroads in terms of public finances. “It is at this time that decisions are made about where public finances will go in the coming years, perhaps decades. The main message of our sustainability report is that we are seeing some progress against the Covid years, but we are not back to what we were used to. We don’t know which direction public finances will go,” Hambl said. said.
The changes promised by Petr Fiala’s government came to fruition this May when the cabinet presented a package of savings and tax measures. According to the government, this bill will help improve the position of the state budget. Next year, it should help reduce the deficit by 97 billion kroner and by 2025 a total of 150 billion kroner. The opposition says the package will only raise taxes, which will increase inflation and negatively affect economic performance.
The government package mainly changes tax laws. It abolishes certain deductions for income taxes. As for Value Added Tax, it introduces only two rates, i.e. 12 and 21 per cent, instead of the current three. Contrary to the original government proposal, newspapers will also come under the lower rate. Opposition MPs have proposed adding soft drinks, firewood, feminine hygiene products or flowers at lower prices.
The opposition wants to remove or moderate many of the changes from the package. For example, Patrick Nacher (ANO) wants to maintain and strengthen government support for creating savings. His party colleagues Radek Vondráček, Jaroslav Faltýnek and Petr Sadovský want to keep an exception that would give tax exemptions on still wine worth up to 500 crowns. Instead, the government wants to abolish the tax exemption system. According to Stantura, this benefit was mostly used by foreign companies.
Asked if the coalition had some votes of all its MPs, Stanjura replied that it was a question for the leaders of the MP clubs. “Yes, I assume the alliance agreement applies, so I have no reason not to believe that,” he said. When asked if further changes could be made to the package, he said he would like to address one or two issues. But he didn’t want to specify which one. He only said that they will not affect the savings amount.