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Cabinet fails to agreed on taxation of church property

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Prague, April 11 (CTK) – The Czech government did not agree on a position to the proposal that financial compensation to the churches, which replaces the property not released within the return of property project, should be subjected to taxation yesterday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has told journalists.
The government has not adopted any stand on the proposal, Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said.
The proposal, raised by the Communists (KSCM), was only backed by Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO).
The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) said the idea was populist.
The coalition government is yet to debate the issue.
“As a matter of fact, the Communists are asking us after two years in office whether the coalition government still exists,” Sobotka said, adding that the proposal included many shortcomings.
Sobotka pointed out the coalition pact under which the return of property to churches should not be changed without the consent of religious societies.
The law on property settlement between the state and churches was passed in late 2012 and took effect in 2013.
Based on it, churches will be returned their former property confiscated by the communist regime, and given financial compensation for the property that cannot be returned.
The compensation will total 59 billion crowns plus inflation during 30 years. Most of the sum, 47.2 billion crowns, is to go to the Roman Catholic Church.
In the past, the CSSD and ANO tried to negotiate some changes, but they failed.
In order to respect the coalition pact, the Social Democrat government members abstained from the vote yesterday.
Babis did not vote for the proposal, arguing that the return of property to churches was too high.
Irrespective of the government position, the Chamber of Deputies will deal with the proposal at one of its next sessions.
According to the Communist plan, the state could be receiving about 380 million crowns annually. In all, it may receive 11.5 billion crowns for the whole duration of the payment of the compensation.
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka said in early April that if the proposal were passed by the parliament, the church would turn with a complaint to the Constitutional Court.
($1=23.771 crowns)

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