published: 11.12.2013, 12:32 | updated: 11.12.2013 12:35:33
Prague - Czech Social Democrat (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) negotiators will meet to assess the updated final text of the coalition pact on Thursday, when CSSD chairman and possible prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka may also provide information on it to President Milos Zeman.
The negotiators solved the last persisting points of controversy concerning the new coalition´s programme late on Tuesday.
Based on the talks result, Sobotka´s team will prepare the final text of the agreement and it will submit it for a definitive assessment to the partners on Thursday.
The latest talks produced the parties´ agreement on steps concerning taxes and regulatory health fees, Sobotka told journalists when the talks ended after the midnight today.
According to CTK´s information, however, major changes were also made in the pact´s preamble and the chapters concerning agriculture, defence and civil service.
Negotiations on some tax-related issues still wait for closing, according to CTK´s information.
If the parties confirm the deal on Thursday, their respective leadership bodies should approve it at the weekend and the parties´ lawmakers should sign it at the beginning of next week.
However, voices have appeared in the KDU-CSL, the nascent coalition´s smallest partner, saying the party´s weekend conference may not approve the coalition agreement text as it goes counter to the party´s programme in some respects.
The KDU-CSL mainly minds the plan to introduce a minimum tax for self-employed people and small businesspeople.
Sobotka said after the night negotiations that the coalition agreement will include a measure preventing the abuse of the tax system by some self-employed people who do not pay taxes over alleged permanent business losses.
The KDU-CSL´s weekend conference assessing the pact will be attended by the party chairman Pavel Belobradek, who is returning from a two-week working stay in the USA on Sunday morning.
The CSSD Central Executive Committee will decide at its meeting on Saturday on whether the party will call an internal referendum to approve the government coalition pact.
The three parties´ Thursday meeting over the text is to start in the Chamber of Deputies at 13:00.
Later on Thursday, Sobotka could go to Prague Castle to inform President Zeman about the coalition pact.
In the five-hour talks on Tuesday, the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL negotiators agreed on abolishing the regulatory fees patients pay for a visit to a doctor and for a medical prescription. The fees patients pay for stay in hospital should not be reintroduced, according to Sobotka, though the Chamber of Deputies approved a bill on their reintroduction in first reading on Tuesday.
The financial gap will be compensated by the Health Ministry´s new directive setting the prices of treatment.
In the tax area, a new, second reduced VAT rate of 5 percent will be introduced. It will apply to medicines, books, diapers and baby food.
At present there are two VAT rates, the basic and the lower ones of 21 and 15 percent, respectively.
Neither the income nor corporate tax will be raised. The question of whether to introduce a sector tax, that would apply to selected branches, remains open, the negotiators said.
Taxes would not be changed before 2015. The coalition will prefer following the path of money saving, the negotiators agreed.
The coalition wants to reintroduce a tax relief for working pensioners and also to gradually increase the minimum wage to bring it close to 40 percent of the country´s average gross monthly wage, which is about 25,000 crowns now.
The CSSD, which won the October general election, together with its centrist partners ANO and the KDU-CSL have 111 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
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