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TOP 09 wants PM to crack down on assets blockage practice

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Prague, April 26 (CTK) – The Czech rightist opposition TOP 09 has asked PM Bohuslav Sobotka to see to it that the Financial Administration (FA) stops excessively issuing orders to block assets of firms and entrepreneurs, a practice whose frequency has risen under Andrej Babis (ANO) as finance minister, TOP 09 said yesterday.

Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) wrote a letter in this respect to Babis today, in which he called the information about an overuse of the blocking orders disquieting.

TOP 09 wants the government to present a solution to the situation at the next session of the Chamber of Deputies, TOP 09 leaders told journalists.

Deputy Finance Minister Alena Schillerova dismissed the criticism and said the number of asset-blocking orders has in fact been declining.

The order’s aim is to temporarily seize a sum from the taxpayer’s money which the FA supposes to correspond to the taxpayer’s future tax duty. The FA is empowered to apply the order if serious and well-founded doubts emerge that the taxpayer might eventually avoid paying the tax otherwise.

TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek, former finance minister in 2007-2013, said dozens of entrepreneurs have been turning to TOP 09, complaining about the FA’s practice.

He said the instrument is justified in advanced countries, but it must be used quite exceptionally, in extreme cases.

“It is a serious problem since this exceptional instrument has been misused [by the FA],” Kalousek said.

By its excessive use of the asset-blocking order, the FA seems to indicate that everybody are suspicious and thieves, Kalousek said.

Sobotka, in his letter, asked Babis for a statistical survey of the blocking orders issued. He also asked Babis to give his stance on the problem and propose steps to be taken.

The blocking order should be used on well-founded occasions only, Sobotka wrote.

Schillerova, on her part, said the number of the issued asset-blocking orders dropped from 1,605 in 2015 to 1,561 in 2016, while their effectivity grew, which means that the proportion between the sum the FA finally returns to entrepreneurs and the sum it transfers to the state budget as saved taxes “improved” from the state’s point of view.

TOP 09 said in a press release that the FA’s unlawful practice has also been illustrated by the repeated scrapping of the blocking orders by the Supreme Court (NS).

“However, the court verdicts can no longer remedy the previous collapse of the firms involved and the irreversible economic damage caused by the Finance Ministry’s wilfulness,” TOP 09 said.


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