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Gov’t approves advance child maintenance paid by state

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Prague, March 29 (CTK) – The Czech government approved yesterday a bill on “advance child maintenance” to be paid by the state that would then exact it from the debtors, Humans Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation Minister Jan Chvojka (Social Democrats, CSSD) has tweeted.
“After years of empty talk, we have proposed a concrete possibility of aid,” Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) told journalists.
He said all the ministers voted for the bill yesterday, which indicated that the bill would win support in parliament.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova (CSSD) said the debates mostly concerned ways to make child support defaulters pay the money they owe. She said the effort to reduce the sum that people owe in child support failed to improve the situation in the past few years.
“We are ready to talk about proposals to recover more of the debts,” Sobotka said, reffering to the parliamentary debate. He said he hopes the bill would be passed before the October general election.
Under the bill that will be sent to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, the maximum state support for children from low-income families would be 2088, 2568 and 2940 crowns a month according to the child’s age, that is up to 1.2 times the subsistence level.
The centre-left government of the CSSD, ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) pledged to introduce advance child maintenance in its coalition agreement.
However, the government coalition swept the proposal from the table twice.
The ANO movement opposed the introduction of “another welfare benefit” in the past. It preferred other tools to make maintenance defaulters pay for their children, such as community works, house arrest and a more frequent suspension of driving licences.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) called the bill one of the ten priorities of his cabinet until the end of its term.
According to the last draft, the level of child support enforceability would amount to some 10 percent.
The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has put the annual costs of the measure at 736.8 million crowns, while the state would recover only 73.9 million of this sum.
Under the bill, advance child maintenance is a special social benefit that can be claimed if the child does not get child maintenance set by court or its part from a parent for more than three months.
A regional labour office would decide on its payment and then exact the sum from the child maintenance dodger in court or through distraint proceedings. If it finds out that nothing can be exacted from the debtor, the state will not provide the benefit.
Some sectors, regions, trade unions and the right-wing opposition parties have criticised the measure.
The opposition TOP 09 proposes that the enforceability of child support be improved instead.
“The state should not replace irresponsible parents, but it should make them fulfil their duties,” TOP deputy chairwoman and MP Marketa Adamova said.
At present non-payment of child support is qualified as a criminal offence after four months. TOP 09 wants this deadline to be cut to two months only.
The bill must yet be passed by the lower and upper houses of parliament and signed by the president into law. It is not sure whether the bill will make it through before the autumn election.
($1=24.883 crowns)

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