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Právo: Property origin bill may boost gov’t partners’ unit

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Prague, June 2 (CTK) – The Czech bill on proving the origin of property, approved by lawmakers in second reading on Tuesday, is important within the cabinet’s effort to stop the undermining and robbing of the state, and it may unite the three parties of the centre-left government, Lukas Jelinek writes in Pravo on Thursday.

Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) seemed satisfied on Wednesday, after many days of complaining, when he announced the record May budget surplus of 23.8 billion crowns. In addition, the Chamber of Deputies passed four Babis-proposed pieces of economic legislation, Jelinek writes.

However, the crucial battle for the bill on proving the origin of property, i.e. the final vote on it in parliament, is still ahead of Babis, Jelinek writes.

The bill is extremely important for the government coalition of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). Not that it would help raise the state revenues impressively. Its importance is rather symbolical, Jelinek writes.

Everybody knows that one should not steal or cheat. However, the new bill, if passed, would enable a far more comprehensive supervision and financial punishment of tax evasion and grey economy. For example, officials will be able to easily compare the volume of people’s property with their tax return, Jelinek writes.

The rightist opposition’s reservations about the bill are ideologically motivated. As right-wing parties, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09 defend well-off people, some of whom definitely gained their property unlawfully, however, Jelinek says.

The ODS and TOP 09’s objection that some may circumvent the law, amounts to grasping at straws. The same objection can be raised against any other bill or law, but this does not mean that laws are totally of no use, Jelinek writes.

The critics also challenge the proposed central registry of accounts at the central bank (CNB). In this connection, nothing prevents parliament from initiating the creation of a supervisory body to oversee the CNB in this respect, Jelinek writes.

A legitimate debate has focused on the size of the sanction for the property of unclear or suspicious origin and the extent of the bill’s retrospective effect, he continues.

While the ODS and TOP 09 are opposed to the bill as a whole, the rest of the opposition, the Communists (KSCM) and the Dawn party, want it to be even tougher. This is also what President Milos Zeman demands, Jelinek writes.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s CSSD, too, previously toyed with the idea of up to a 100-percent additional taxation of the uncovered property with unclear origin, but it later backpedalled on it in reaction to lawyers and coalition partners’ comments, Jelinek writes.

Nevertheless, even a small contribution matters. It is important for the state to show its strength and capability of enforcing its interests. That is why Babis’s bill on proving the origin of property has been impatiently waited for by Czechs, Jelinek writes.

The government of Sobotka’s CSSD, Babis’s ANO and Pavel Belobradek’s KDU-CSL has a reputation of a caretaker. This is no reproach but an appreciation. Practices aimed to weaken the state or even privatise and rob it prevailed in the Czech Republic for many years before. To remedy the situation and reverse the above trend is a task of key importance, Jelinek writes.

However, the task can be accomplished only if the government coalition is united. This is where another contribution of the bill on proving the origin of property lies, Jelinek continues.

After several weeks of internal quarrels and rifts, the coalition needs to unite, for some time at least, to push through its common goal, he writes.

The coalition’s efforts might be a success this time. If so, all three coalition leaders, Babis, Sobotka and Belobradek, would rightfully declare themselves winners, Jelinek concludes.

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