Prague, April 12 (CTK) – The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed yesterday a government amendment to the law on state social support that will raise welfare payments to families with children.

The Senate, the upper house, must yet to approve the bill and President Milos Zeman sign it into law.

Under the amendment, parents of twins, triplets (as well as in other multiple birth cases) will receive a higher parental benefit. It will rise from the current 220,000 crowns to 330,000 crowns in total.

This measure will cost additional 400 million crowns from the state budget in the first year, and 210 million a year in the following years because of a lower number of recipients.

Tax relief for the first child will increase by 150 crowns monthly as well.

The state budget will lose 2.1 billion crowns a year due to this change.

The legislation will also extend the types of families that will be entitled to child benefits.

Even the families with an income not exceeding the subsistence level 2.7 times will be entitled to them.

Consequently, about 300,000 children would newly receive state benefits, which would cost five billion crowns extra from the state budget or eight billion in total.

At present about 400,000 children in the country with a population of 10.5 million are entitled to child benefits.

A monthly child benefit will rise in the families where at least one parent works or has an income of at least the subsistence level by 300 crowns to 800, 910 and 1000 crowns, according to the child’s age.

The amendment also introduces the possibility to draw parental benefits more quickly.

The right-wing opposition criticised the measures as populist steps connected with the October general election.

“The attack on the mandatory expenditure is unprecedented,” opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy group head Zbynek Stanjura said.

The amendment was supported by 134 out of the 173 MPs present, while 12 voted against it.

($1=25.112 crowns)