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ČSSD proposes VAT cuts on basic foods rather than beer

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Plzen, West Bohemia/Prague, Aug 30 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) would welcome the lowering of the value-added tax on basic foods rather than of the VAT rate applied to draught beer, their leader, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, told journalists yesterday.
“We believe that VAT cuts on beer can wait,” he said in reaction to the proposal for lowering the VAT applied to draught beer that Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) wants to push through, from the current 21 percent to 15 percent.
Babis wants to propose the lower VAT on beer on tap at a meeting of the leaders of the three coalition parties, including the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), on Wednesday.
Parties make various promises and propose various changes to win support of their potential voters ahead of the regional and Senate elections due in October.
Sobotka said the VAT rate for bread, meat and other basic foods should decrease from the current 15 percent to 10 percent.
The state budget can afford this, he added.
“It seems much better for people to cut the VAT applied to basic foods. When the ANO movement submitted the proposal (to cut VAT on draught beer) several months ago, they have heard this from us already,” Sobotka said.
He said the Social Democrats want the VAT rate on all basic foods to decrease to 10 percent, but it will be possible only in the next election period starting in late 2017.
National Anti-Drug Coordinator Jindrich Voboril said beer is behind half of health and social troubles related to alcohol in the Czech Republic, which annually cause damage of at least 10 billion crowns.
The latest studies show that the price of beer markedly influences its consumption, he said.
“By VAT cut on beer, we will expose our population to a higher risk, especially younger people as beer is the beverage most often drank by Czech teenagers,” Voboril said.
“If the government wants to change the VAT rate, it should not result in a lower price of alcoholic beverages,” he added.
Voboril said he would welcome a decrease in the VAT rate applied to non-alcoholic drinks.

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