Prague, Jan 10 (CTK) – The Czech government will support the Communists’ (KSCM) bill on the taxation of the financial compensation for churches within their property restitution since a certain correction of the process is needed, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) said on Wednesday.
This was the most broadly discussed issue at the government’s meeting this morning, he added.
The KSCM wants to impose a tax on the compensations paid gradually to the churches by the state for their property confiscated by the Communist regime that cannot be returned for various reasons. This was one of the Communists’ conditions for their support for or tolerance of the Babis government.
However, the KSCM executive committee recommended on Tuesday that the party’s deputies vote against confidence in the minority government in the Chamber of Deputies.
The Catholic Church representatives reject the KSCM proposal for the taxation of the churches’ financial compensation.
The current version of the church restitution law is advantageous both for the state and society, while the church has proved that the property restitution is not overvalued, Stanislav Pribyl, general secretary of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, representing Czech Catholics, said on its website in reaction to the government’s meeting on Wednesday.
Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek said he considered the Communist proposal a violation of the rule of law.
Moreover, the measure would affect the Federation of the Jewish Communities most severely, he said.
“This idea smells of anti-Semitism,” Belobradek tweeted.
According to the restitution law from 2012, churches will be returned land and real estate worth 75 billion, confiscated from them by the communists, and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
“The government is aware of the risk that the proposed solution might be challenged with the Constitutional Court,” the government legislative experts wrote in their document for the ministers on the respective KSCM’s bill.
The culture and finance minister commented on the KSCM proposal. While the Culture Ministry recommended that the government disagreed with the proposal, the Finance Ministry supported it.
“The approval of the proposal would mean the violation of the agreements on property settlement signed with particular churches and religious organisations,” the Culture Ministry said.
The Justice Ministry has not commented on the bill though it was asked to do so.
The KSCM says in its report justifying the bill that by the taxation of the churches’ compensation, the state would annually get some 380 million crowns from about two billion it sends to the churches in compensation a year. This would amount to some 11 billion crowns in total, the Communists said, adding that this is the only way to make the financial compensation proportionate.