Prague - The Czech Chamber of Deputies made an unprecedented experience today when a part of the governing Social Democrats (CSSD) supported a cut in the excise duty on diesel and petrol at variance with the intention of the government and probably also of their own.
Ilustrační foto - Premiér Bohuslav Sobotka hovoří 15. července na mimořádné schůzi Poslanecké sněmovny v Praze. ČTK Šimánek Vít
The Chamber will probably take a repeated vote on the bill on Friday at the CSSD´s request.
If it took effect in the wording passed today, the state budget would lose billions of crowns in revenues, Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) warned.
Many of the CSSD deputies who supported the tax cut did not have clue what they were voting for, CSSD chairman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after the vote.
The CSSD challenged it and asked for a new vote. The opposition said they would challenge a possible new vote at the Constitutional Court as it would go counter to the Chamber´s order of procedure.
The governing coalition of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), which has a comfortable majority in the lower house, wanted to pass an amendment to the excise tax law that would introduce a tax refund on diesel oil used in agriculture.
However, together with the above measure, the Chamber approved a cut in excise duty on diesel oil and petrol by 2.50 crowns and 1.50 crowns per litre, as additionally proposed by CSSD deputy Milan Urban.
Babis said this would strip the state of revenues worth 14 billion crowns and it would be a violation of the EU requirements.
He said the bill´s passing was an error on the part of several confused CSSD deputies.
Sobotka, too, said the CSSD deputies were disoriented and voted in an confused way.
He called Urban a big aide of the opposition.
Babis dismissed Urban´s argument that the fuel prices in the Czech Republic are so high that drivers prefer going to buy fuel abroad.
Unlike Urban, Babis, said he does not believe that the excise tax reduction would lead to a decline in prices. It would benefit fuel distributors only, Babis said.
Today's decision that the Chamber has approved the bill is invalid, the Chamber´s chairman Jan Hamacek (CSSD) said.
On Friday, the Chamber will probably vote again on Urban's proposal as well as on the bill as a whole.