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Gov’t parties reach no VAT agreement, no longer to seek any

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Prague, Oct 24 (CTK) – The three parties of the Czech government coalition failed yesterday to agree on a way to reduce VAT, and they will no longer reopen the issue until the general election due next autumn, their leading representatives told the media after the Coalition Council meeting.
Nor did the representatives of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) reach agreement on some welfare-related proposals, which will be subject to a further debate.
The proposals, submitted by Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova (CSSD), include a bill aimed to improve the situation of single parents.
Before the mid-October Senate and regional elections, the government politicians mentioned the plan to reduce the VAT on draught beer from the current 21 percent to 15 as of next year, and the VAT on essential foods from 15 percent to 10 as of 2018.
The reduction of the VAT on beer was proposed by Finance Minister and ANO chairman Andrej Babis in compensation for the losses restaurants may face as a result of the new law on mandatory electronic registration of sales.
The Coalition Council failed to reach consensus on the VAT changes yesterday, however.
ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek said the issue has been “closed for the moment.”
KDU-CSL deputies’ group chairman Jiri Mihola admitted that the topic may emerge ahead of the general election again. Nevertheless, yesterday’s meeting resulted in a decision not to seek any VAT changes any more, Mihola said.
The coalition wants to continue discussing an increase of university staff’s pay, the officials said.
At its next meeting to be held before the next lower house session, the Coalition Council is to discuss “Lex Babis,” which is a conflict of interests bill that bans government members from owning broadcasters and other media, excludes companies controlled by ministers from public procurement and strips them of non-mandatory subsidies.
ANO protests against the bill, saying it is aimed against a single person – Babis, a billionaire owner of the giant Agrofert company and some influential media.
The bill made it through the Chamber of Deputies a few weeks ago, but the upper house recently returned it to the Chamber together with the proposal to postpone the law’s introduction from January 1, 2017 to September 1, 2017.

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