published: 23.10.2012, 16:53 | updated: 23.10.2012 16:54:24
Prague - Czech Civic Democrat (ODS) rebelling deputies failed again today to reach agreement with the ODS leadership on a compromise version of the draft tax package that the government has linked to a confidence vote and that is to be voted on by the Chamber of Deputies next week.
Negotiations about changes to the package, including a tax increase opposed by the six rebels as ineffective and incompatible with the ODS's programme, will continue in the ODS, one of the rebels, Petr Tluchor, told journalists.
The Chamber of Deputies' plenary session is to start discussing possible modifications to the package in the bill's second reading on Wednesday.
"For now I must state that we are incapable of keeping to the coalition agreement that clearly says government deputies are supposed to support government-sponsored bills. As far as the confidence vote is concerned, the coalition agreement is quite unambiguous: each of us [government MPs] has pledged to support this government in confidence votes," ODS deputies' group chairman Zbynek Stanjura told journalists.
After the ODS's inconclusive internal talks today, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) said he has agreed with ODS chairman and PM Petr Necas to withdraw the 2013 budget bill, which counts with the tax package's implementation, from the Chamber of Deputies.
He said he will submit a new budget bill based on valid legislation in 30 days.
The stabilisation package was to increase the budget by 22 billion crowns. The VAT rise, which the ODS rebels still reject, was to bring 13.7 billion crowns.
Necas said if responsibility wins, the government will not fall over the tax package. However, if the rebelling deputies' goal is, for example, to topple [him as] the ODS chairman and prime minister and change the balance of forces in the ODS, the ODS could hardly reach consensus on the tax package.
He recalled that his compromise proposal counts with a one-percent increase only in the lower VAT rate, from 14 to 15 percent as from 2013, while the higher rate should stay at 20 percent.
The government's draft package projects one percent increase in both rates.
The planned higher taxation of people with high income would last one year only, Necas added, referring to his compromise offer, which the rebels previously rejected as "desperately insufficient."
"Discussions, discussions, discussions. When the right wing is entangled in internal disputes, the Communists are laughing and if we are not able to put at end to this, it will not turn out well," ODS deputy chairman Pavel Blazek said, commenting on today´s talks in the party´s deputy group.
Tluchor said the rebels and the ODS leadership have only agreed that the ODS deputies' group will meet ahead of the package's second reading on Wednesday and also ahead of the final reading [due next week].
"I still believe that everybody will realise that much more is at stake than one percentage point, that the ODS's programme and the ODS's future are at stake," Tluchor said.
Necas's proposal is a "desperately little step," he added.
The ODS is ahead of its congress to be held in Brno on November 2-4 that will elect its new leadership.
Necas faces a stronger pressure after the party´s debacle in the recent regional and Senate elections.
Tluchor openly said the congress should result in a "substantial" change in the ODS leadership and its policy.
"The tandem of Petr Necas, Miroslava Nemcova (ODS deputy head and Chamber of Deputies chairwoman), two ODS top representatives and two supreme constitutional officials in the ODS colours are undoubtedly responsible for the election results. The chairman´s responsibility is crucial and the congress must draw some conclusions from it if the chairman is not doing it himself," Tluchor told reporters.
He, however refused to say who should replace Necas at the party´s helm.
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