The Czech governing coalition pushed a tax package through the lower house on Wednesday that will increase the price of tobacco, hard liquor and gambling as well as levelling a one-off tax on insurer’s reserves. The opposition, which vehemently opposed the effort, has slammed the ruling coalition for breaking its promise not to raise taxes.
The approval of the tax package in the lower house was accompanied by insults, shouting and even filibustering from the opposition parties who did their best to prevent or at least modify the tax hike proposals.
In the end the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Babiš’ ANO party and the Social Democrats, with backing from the Communist Party, used their majority in the lower house to force a vote on the bill despite the fact that there were close to three dozen more MPs waiting to address the house on the matter. This was so that an expected veto from the Senate could be overturned in time for the bill to come into force next year.
While the opposition is considering filing a complaint with the Constitutional Court regarding this breach of procedure in Parliament, the ruling parties claim that the debate was not constructive and the deputies waiting in line would only have extended the filibustering of the opposition.
The bill, which should bring a ten percent consumer tax hike on tobacco and hard liquor was supported by 96 deputies from ANO, the Social Democrats and the Communist Party. The Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and the Christian Democrats left the assembly hall in protest.
When it comes into force, the bill should increase state revenues by about 10 billion crowns ($434.88 million). It is aimed at keeping the budget deficit at 40 billion crowns or 0.7% of economic output.