Czech nascent coalition agrees on all except taxes, health care

Zleva předseda poslaneckého klubu hnutí ANO Jaroslav Faltýnek, předseda ČSSD Bohuslav Sobotka a místopředseda KDU-ČSL Marian Jurečka na briefingu, který uspořádali 7. prosince v Praze po jednání o koaliční smlouvě.

published: 07.12.2013, 17:03 | updated: 07.12.2013 17:07:13

Prague - The three Czech parties negotiating on forming a government have reached agreement on most points in the planned coalition pact except for taxes and health care, but still the pact might be completed and approved as quickly as Tuesday, potential prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said today.

Sobotka, chairman of the election-winning Social Democrats (CSSD), spoke to journalists after a six-hour meeting of representatives of the coalition parties, the CSSD, the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

The partners today also accepted a proposal of the smallest of them, the KDU-CSL, for a safeguard to prevent one of them from being outvoted by the other two.

"We´ve agreed on the final formulations in the planned coalition programme, and only two areas have been left for us to discuss again at our next meeting," Sobotka said.

Positions still differ on issues such as the introduction of progressive income tax and of the sector tax for selected big corporations, he said.

He said in his view the tax burden should be spread in a better way.

"A part [of the tax burden] should be borne by companies or big companies. We´ve not reached consensus on this for the time being," Sobotka said.

ANO´s negotiator Jaroslav Faltynek said ANO, in accordance with its election pledge, is opposed to any raising of taxes.

Rather than a tax rise, ANO would seek ways to save public money by making ministries´ work more effective, Faltynek said.

The other area of controversy is health care.

The three parties have agreed on abolishing the regulatory fees patients pay for visiting out-patient surgeries and in pharmacies. However, they seek financial sources in case they would also refrain from reintroducing patients´ fees for stay in hospital, which have been scrapped as from January based on the Constitutional Court´s verdict.

Sobotka said he fears that the abolition of the fees could worsen the situation in the underfinanced health care sector.

Earlier this week, the KDU-CSL asked for the coalition pact to include a safeguard preventing its outvoting by the two bigger coalition partners.

The CSSD and ANO nodded to the safeguard at the talks today.

The safeguard say important bills will be approved only if they are supported by at least a half of ministers from each coalition party at a cabinet meeting.

KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka today welcomed the KDU-CSL´s success in pushing through tax reliefs for families and changes to the pension system so that it took not only the number of years at work but also the number of raised children into account.

The KDU-CSL has also pushed through the pledge to fight against "wild" distrainers and usury as part of the coalition agreement, Jurecka said.

Sobotka said the government forming negotiations will continue on Tuesday evening when the coalition agreement might be definitively completed by the chief negotiators.

Afterwards it will need an internal approval of each of the three parties involved.

The CSSD Central Executive Committee may discuss it next Saturday, Sobotka said.

He said the parties today did not discuss the new cabinet´s lineup. They are waiting for KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek´s return from a working stay in the USA.

The CSSD, ANO, and the KDU-CSL command 50, 47 and 14 votes, i.e. 111-vote majority in the 200-seat Czech Chamber of Deputies elected on October 25-26.


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