Prague, June 4 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) agrees with the taxation of the property returned to churches as demanded by the Communists (KSCM) for their support for his government in the making, Babis told journalists today.
According to the restitution law from 2012, churches are returned land and real estate worth 75 billion, confiscated from them by the communists, and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state gradually ceases financing churches.
The payments end in 2030 when the separation of churches from the state will be finished. Last year, the state paid roughly 1.3 billion crowns for the priests’ salaries. The sum falls by 5 percent every year.
The KSCM says the taxation is one of the conditions for their support for the minority government of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD).
Babis said ANO’s view of the affair had been stable for long and since the taxation of the property returned to churches was no new topic, he had not discussed it with the KSCM.
In February, the Chamber of Deputies approved the proposal to tax the financial compensation sent to the churches for the property not released to them within the restitution process annually in the first reading.
The legislation, drafted by the KSCM, was supported by the deputies for ANO, the CSSD and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).
The churches have made it clear that if the law is passed, they will challenge it at the Constitutional Court.
“We have agreed with this in the long run. I presume that the CSSD will join it,” Babis said.
He said the evaluation of the non-released property, on the basis of which the state was ending the compensation to the churches, was unusual.
“There are some signs that the property is being released that perhaps should not have fallen under the restitution process,” Babis said.
He said he was not afraid of challenging the taxation at the Constitutional Court.
Social Democrat leader Jan Hamacek said he was also for the taxation of the property returned to churches.
“The Social Democrat deputies clearly supported the bill on the taxation of the compensation in the first reading and we are not about to change anything in this,” Hamacek has tweeted.
The chairman of the KSCM deputy group, Pavel Kovacik, told Czech Television on Sunday that if the commitment did not appear in the deal on the KSCM backing the minority government, the Communists would not be able to tolerate the government. By contrast, they could express mistrust in it, he added.
ANO has agreed on a coalition cooperation with the CSSD.
However, the Social Democrats are yet to give a go-ahead to the deal. Now a referendum is being held on the issue. The result is to be known by mid-June.
Taken together, ANO and are Social Democrats have 93 votes in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies.