Prague, March 16 (CTK) – The Czech Senate passed the closely watched bill on the compulsory electronic registration of sales (EET), which the centre-left government expects to reduce tax evasion and which has been sharply criticised by the right-wing opposition, yesterday, as expected.
If President Milos Zeman signs the bill into law, the opposition wants to challenge it at the Constitutional Court. It says the law, promoted by Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), would wreck a number of small tradespeople.
Zeman previously voiced support for the bill.
The upper house passed the bill by the votes out of 43 of 72 senators present.
The bill was supported by senators from the government Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and ANO, and from the opposition Communists (KSCM) and the Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPO).
Only four out of the ten senators for the junior government Christian Democratic Union (KDU-CSL), who took part in the vote, supported the bill.
The Senate passed the bill after a four-hour debate in which arguments for and against the EET introduction were presented once again by both its advocates and critics.
The critics proposed to soften the sanctions set for the law’s violation and tighten the regime for the financial offices.
The government lawmakers, nevertheless, rejected any modifications out of fear that if returned by the Senate to the Chamber of Deputies for reassessment, the bill may again face obstructions by the rightist opposition.
In the lower house, the opposition used filibustering to prevent the bill’s passage earlier this year. Finally, the government coalition lawmakers voted to cut the endless debate, and they pushed the bill through the Chamber of Deputies on February 10.
Babis repeated yesterday that the EET will reduce tax evasion and increase the state’s tax revenues by up to 18 billion crowns a year, which will benefit towns and regions. The state will also have more money to invest in schools, health care, science and research, defence and security, Babis said.
The first businesses to which the EET law will apply will be hotels and restaurants as from November. Other branches will gradually follow.