Sunday, 20 April 2014

Senate supports abolition of electronic social cards

7 December 2012

Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - The Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, Thursday as expected supported the Social Democrat (CSSD) proposal that the electronic social cards (sCards) for welfare benefits payment be abolished.

The Social Democrats command a comfortable majority of 46 votes in the 81-seat Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, after the October elections.

The critics of the cards say they are useless, immoral and anti-constitutional.

Senators also criticised the contract with the Ceska sporitelna bank that won a tender for the sCard system. The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry signed a 12-year contract with the bank.

No senator defended the current form of the sCards.

The Senate social, constitutional-legal and public administration committees are yet to debate the cards.

Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) said he considers sCards "a dangerous attempt at further privatisation of public sector and public services."

Former constitutional judge Eliska Wagnerova, senator for the Greens, said the institute of sCards "is in political terms immoral" and "in legal terms anti-constitutional."

The contract with the bank is invalid since it was closed beyond the framework of the Labour and Social Ministry.

The contract with the bank was signed by former deputy social affairs minister Vladimir Siska who is charged with bribery connected with an order for the ministry.

Siska had no legal power to do so, Wagnerova added.

Senate and CSSD deputy chairman Zdenek Skromach said the sCards "are an expensive toy" and the project should be changed or abolished.

The centre-right coalition government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) is now seeking ways of securing the optional and not obligatory use of sCards.

Labour and Social Affairs Minister Ludmila Muellerova (TOP 09) said it should be clear by the end of the week.

Not only the leftist opposition, but also trade unions and the National Disability Council (NRZP) have criticised the cards system and the contract on it. The ombudsman has raised objections to it, too.

The Anti-Trust Office and the Office for Personal Data Protection are dealing with the cards.

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