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Czech MPs approve tax hike on alcohol and tobacco, increase in parental benefits

The parental benefit rise will cost some 8.6 billion crowns from the state budget

Prague, Nov 6 (CTK) – The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed the parental benefit rise by 80,000 crowns to 300,000 as of January tonight after it unexpectedly returned to the approval of the government tax package.

Earlier today, the MPs passed a rise in the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products and on gambling as well as the taxation of a part of the insurance companies’ financial reserves. Additionally, the fee for the entry in a land register will rise from 1000 to 2000 crowns.

The Senate, the upper house, is now to deal with the bills and then President Milos Zeman is to sign them into laws.

The centre-right opposition supported the higher parental benefit, but did not push through its proposal that the group of families entitled to a higher parental benefit should be enlarged.

The parental benefit rise will cost some 8.6 billion crowns from the state budget.

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In the case of twins and other multiple births, the total benefit will rise from the current 330,000 to 450,000 crowns.

The higher benefits will go to the parents of newborn babies and children under four who will be entitled to it, which means they will not have taken the whole sum by January when law is to take effect.

The amendment includes other changes, too.

The number of hours that children under two can spend in a nursery without their parents losing the parental benefit may double as of January from 46 to 92 hours a month.

The parental benefit will also be included in the income for claiming all state welfare payments dependent on the income level.

The centre-right opposition and the government MPs for ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) along with the parties supporting the cabinet, the Communists (KSCM) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), were accusing one another of obstructions that prevented the passage of the tax package and thus the parental benefit rise.

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The government insisted that the parental benefit should be approved only after the tax package as the 2020 state budget counts with higher revenues from the tax hike.

It seemed first that the MPs would not vote on the planned rise in the parental benefit before Friday.

However, senior opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy group head Zbynek Stanjura proposed that the Chamber of Deputies may vote on bills later in the afternoon until 19:00 and continue with the parental benefit approval, while ANO MP Roman Kubicek proposed that the lower house vote on the tax package first. The Chamber of Deputies met Stanjura’s proposal to go on as well as Kubicek’s request to start with the tax package.

Some opposition parties previously warned that if the Chamber of Deputies voted on the tax package before the debate on it ended, they would turn to the Constitutional Court.

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