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Entrepreneurs sue ex-FinMin Babiš for fomenting hatred

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Prague, July 11 (CTK) – Czech entrepreneurs have filed criminal complaints against former finance minister Andrej Babis (ANO) on suspicion of fomenting hatred against the self-employed people and restricting their rights and freedoms by defaming and bullying them repeatedly, Boleslav Buzek said on Tuesday.

Buzek heads a group struggling against the compulsory electronic-registration of sales (EET) which Babis pushed through while in office (2014-May 2017).

Buzek said the complaints have been lodged in Prague, Plzen and Ostrava for the time being.

Babis called the step silly.

Some entrepreneurs previously did not pay taxes, he told CTK to support the EET as a measure against tax evasion.

“Babis has deliberately defamed small tradespeople in order to justify his practice of permanently bullying them through a variety of bureaucratic instruments. In doing so, he eliminates his business rivals and he even uses it to score political points. We will not allow ourselves to be further insulted and called thieves,” Buzek said.

Babis, whose ANO movement comfortably leads party popularity polls four months ahead of the general election, said he has got accustomed to his opponents criticising him to raise their publicity.

“The fact that some pub owners failed to pay taxes and social and health insurance fees for their employees was proved by the Czech Statistical Office’s data about the grey economy in the catering and accommodation businesses,” Babis said.

The EET has been gradually introduced in various business areas, with catering and accommodation being the first.

“Thanks to the EET and the VAT ledger statements, the VAT revenues rose by 14.1 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2017. The two measures have been effective, on which all macroeconomists have agreed. It is normal to pay taxes,” said Babis, who resigned as minister in May amid a government crisis provoked by his dubious business activities and suspected attempts to influence media.

The criminal complaint against him has been joined by Radomil Babek, chairman of the Czech Entrepreneurs’ Association.

“There is a politician in the Czech Republic who behaves like the Communists in the 1950s. He has made entrepreneurs an internal enemy and heralded his plan to do away with them…We must wake up and realise that the Czech Republic is becoming a division of [Babis’s] Agrofert concern in the claws of the omnipotent oligarch,” Babek said.

Buzek’s anti-EET group filed a criminal complaint earlier this year already, with the aim to prove that Babis’s assertions about EET were misleading.

Babis previously said the EET’s goal is to improve the business environment. The right-wing opposition has criticised the measure as liquidating for many small tradespeople.

The EET applies to about 151,000 entrepreneurs. In the first phase, it was introduced for restaurants and accommodating facilities as of December 1, 2016. The second phase, applying to wholesale and retail entrepreneurs, started on March 1 and the third and fourth phases will start in 2018.

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