Wednesday, 16 April 2014

MfD: Gov't should stop rewriting laws

3 January 2013

Prague, Jan 2 (CTK) - The Czech government should stop changing laws and regulations permanently and let the citizens make decisions on their own, Robert Casensky writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) yesterday.

The ideal slogan of the coalition government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) might be No More Taxes, No More Regulations, No More Need to Arrange Administrative Issues for Citizens. The left-wing opposition might start presenting proposals for making people's lives even more easier and remove further administrative burdens, Casensky writes.

"Reform" seems to be the most popular Czech word of 2012. Probably no other word was repeated by the politicians so many times, he says.

Nearly everything has been reformed recently, at least verbally: pensions, tax rates, welfare benefit payments, registration of motor vehicles, Casensky writes.

As a result, one week before Christmas firms still did not know how high value-added tax they would be paying in 2013, he says. Another example is the new car registry that is not functioning well even six months after its introduction, Casensky notes.

Of course, some of the newly introduced reforms are needed and they are steps towards improvement, for example the pension reform, he writes.

But opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) who are the most probable winner of the next general election declare that they will cancel the pension reform once they get into power, Casensky recalls.

The best the Czech political elite could do this year is to leave things unchanged. The taxes seem too high, yet it would be better not to change them once again. Laws should not be amended or abolished shortly after they take effect, Casensky writes.

It appears that Czech politicians started to believe that the average citizen is unreasonable and that they must permanently make decisions on his behalf, improve his living conditions and set new rules for him, Casensky says.

Shortly before the end of last year, Health Minister Leos Heger (TOP 09) said all Czech restaurants should offer non-alcoholic drinks cheaper than beer in order to lower alcoholism among young people, Casensky notes.

Mr Heger surely has good intentions but the idea of young boys going to a pub and preferring beer to orange juice only because it is cheaper is ridiculous, he writes.

Heger's idea might be developed by an inter-ministerial commission that would prepare a new regulation. Consequently, the Czech retail inspection would have new duties, checking the prices of beers and sodas in pubs and bars, or even a new office for drink prices with branches in all 14 Czech regions would be established, Casensky writes, mocking the proposal.

He says it is not only the Health Ministry but many other political bodies that propose "necessary" changes, for example claiming that the identification cards are obsolete and the new IDs need to be introduced or that the "old" driving licences must be replaced by new ones.

There are many such cards and the citizens have to spend time at municipal offices getting stamps and approvals to receive them, Casensky writes, hinting at the controversial projects of the electronic social card (s-Card) for welfare recipients and the Opencard smart card for Praguers, among others.

It would be wonderful if the public succeeded in persuading its political representatives that it is quite happy with old IDs and driving licences and without a sophisticated system of setting beer prices, Casensky writes.

If the government wants to do something useful, it might try to reduce the state administration, he says.

But a merger of two ministries in a single one without lowering the numbers of clerks, forms and stamps is meaningless, even though the state will save the money that was paid in salaries of the minister and three deputy ministers, Casensky writes, hinting at the planned merger of the transport and industry ministries in a new ministry for economy launched in December.

It would be much better to abolish several regulations and let individuals and firms freely decide on their own, without any formal duties, Casensky says.

Another recommendation for the government would be to build modern infrastructure without paying two times more than in Germany for the railway and road construction, he writes.

A majority of Czech citizens are reasonable, capable and independent persons. Politicians should stop taking excessive care of the citizens and focus only on those who really need help. At present, there is often not enough time and money left to care for those in need because of the permanent care for "the public benefit," Casensky says.

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