ANO Standoff Over Social Services Funding

Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) – The parties in the lower house of Czech parliament want to increase the state funds for social services, their representatives told journalists before the house’s plenary session today.


Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader Pavel Belobradek said the previous government had not settled this issue completely. “The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry did not succeed in dealing with this issue within the budget talks and so the lower house needs to face it,” he said.


KDU-CSL MP Pavla Golasowska proposed that three billion crowns be moved from the budget chapter on general cash administration to social services. She said the lower house’s social affairs committee supported the plan.


The Communists (KSCM) will submit their own proposal for higher spending on social services to the parliament. KSCM MP Hana Aulicka Jirovcova said 3.3 billion crowns were needed, but two billion were a minimum.


The strongest party in the house, the ANO movement, said higher spending on social services is not possible unless an agreement is reached on the amount of the money and on from where it would be transferred.


The right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) share this view.


ANO and the ODS consider it realistic to release 1.6 billion crowns now, while the rest would be provided if the country’s economy develops well. The proposal should be made by the Finance Ministry, ANO MPs said.


The ODS also said it would present possible steps to resolutely cut state expenditures during the second reading of the 2018 state budget bill on Friday. The aim is to lower the state debt, ODS MPs said.


The Pirates said they would wait for the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to present its proposal for the state spending on social services to the lower house budgetary committee on Thursday.


Social Democrat (CSSD) MP Katerina Valachova said the decrease in the budget chapter on the spending on social services was bad.


The Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) did not comment on the issue, however, its representatives proposed to decrease developmental aid, spend more money on the training of reserve troops and is against an increase in benefits for people with disabilities.


The Mayors and Independents (STAN) also called for higher state spending on social services. “The government promised lots of money before the elections, but it let the municipal and regional authorities cover the costs,” STAN head Jan Farsky said in this respect.


As the government made the promises, it should provide the finances, Farsky said.


TOP 09 lower house group’s head Miroslav Kalousek said all parties in the lower house agree on the need to earmark more money for social services, but they disagree on where to take the money from.


TOP 09 and the STAN also would like to give more money to schools, but other parties do not share their view.