Sunday, 14 July 2019

Unions criticise govt's planned pension, welfare policies

10 July 2018

Prague, July 9 (CTK) - Czech trade unions have reservations about the new government's policy statement and want it to be changed, union leader Josef Stredula said on Monday, criticising the plan to separate the pension system account from the state budget and the missing plan to raise the subsistence level.

The unions are also dissatisfied with the policy statement's chapters concerning taxes and healthcare, Stredula, head of the CMKOS umbrella union, told CTK.

The minority government of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD), which is to rely on the Communist (KSCM) support, wants to submit the policy statement to the Chamber of Deputies and ask for a confidence motion on Wednesday.

"There are many pros there [in the policy statement], but there are also things we consider far from good, while certain things are completely missing," Stredula said.

In its policy statement, the cabinet says it wants a pension reform based on the separation of the pension system account from the state budget.

The unions are resolutely opposed to this.

"We consider it a big mistake, a wrong path. We believe that this should still be profoundly reassessed," Stredula said.

The pay-as-you go pension system account, which is a part of the state budget, showed annual deficits from 2009. In 2012 and 2013, the spending on pensions even exceeded the revenues from people's contributions to the system by almost 50 billion crowns. The gaps were filled from the state budget.

Last year, the system ended in a slight surplus of 0.9 billion crowns as a result of the high employment rate and growing wages.

The unions fear that the pension system may run out of money if separated from the state budget.

The CMKOS also criticises the government policy statement for not containing a plan to raise the subsistence level that has remained unchanged since January 2012. The monthly subsistence level is 3,410 crowns for an adult person, 8,450 for parents with two small children and 7,020 for a single parent raising an offspring.

According to the unions, an increase in the subsistence level, from which various welfare benefits are derived, might help curb the poverty rate in the country.

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