A threatened general strike aimed at upping pressure on the Czech government to drop pension reforms and public spending cuts will not take place before the summer holidays but is still on the cards unless there are signs of concessions say the Czech Republic’s biggest grouping of trades unions.
Czech President Václav Klaus has made a symbolic protest against EU inspired environmental legislation by refusing to sign a bill aimed at promoting the use of bio fuels. The outspoken critic of the EU and measures to curb manmade climate change said the final measure could do more harm than good and had not been the subject of any fundamental debate.
A think tank report shows that the proposed fees for administering second-pillar pension funds are out of line with those for similar programs in other countries such as Sweden. The report’s authors also favor anonymity in the accounts to protect the clients. Finding the right structure for the funds, though, is the most important issue.
The three-way center-right coalition government rallied its MPs to easily defeat a no-confidence vote called by the main oppostion party, the Social Democrats (ČSSD), but still looks vulnerable with relations soured between the governing parties
Public Affairs (VV) remains an unreliable structure whose behavior is impossible to predict, the lengthy internal crisis within the Civic Democrats (ODS) has intensified, and the president has his own agenda, aimed at weakening the prime minister and ensuring his own political staying power. Against this backdrop, anything could be a pretext for another Cabinet war, writes commentator Petr Nováček.
The fees for administering the planned pension funds will be a key issue that decides the long-term benefit of the government’s pension reforms. The Finance Ministry has given the first indication of the options on how and how much the private funds can make on managing future pensioners’ money. The question is whether the administration of the money will be an attractive proposition for financial institutes and their clients.
Why hasn’t Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats – ODS) spoken to Minister for Regional Development Kamil Jankovský? For had he considered or at least noted what the media are reporting, the government wouldn’t have spent so much time and energy defending the proposal to hike the value-added tax in order to fund the planned overhaul of the country’s pension system.
The Cabinet agreed on new rates for value-added tax (VAT), calling for the lower rate to be increased next year from 10 percent to 14 percent. The two VAT rates will them be unified on Jan. 1, 2013, at 17.5 percent for all items without exception. The idea of decreasing the amount of social tax an employer pays by 1.8 percent has been dropped.
If President Václav Klaus doesn’t sign the government proposal for pension reform, it won’t be a tragedy, as the center-right coalition’ concept is ill-prepared, writes economist Vladimír Pikora. And if the opposition forms the next government, it will probably make changes, resulting in a never-ending and expensive reform of pension reform.
The Finance Ministry’s plans to withdraw most items in the reduced VAT band have fallen foul of the nation’s readers. Almost 100,000 have signed an Internet petition against proposals to double VAT on books to 20 percent as of Oct.1, a move experts say would deny readers thousands of new titles each year. Publishers, politicians and even presidents have become embroiled in the heated debate.