Monday, 29 May 2017

Deputy PM: Babiš wants bonds taxed to solve own trouble

ČTK |
15 March 2017

Prague, March 14 (CTK) - Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) wants to amend a law additionally imposing a tax on one-crown bonds in order to resolve his personal problem, Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) told journalists on Tuesday.

The KDU-CSL is embarrassed at Babis's effort to include his proposal in a bill introducing reliefs for blood donors, which is on the agenda of the Chamber of Deputies now, Belobradek said.

The senior government Social Democrats (CSSD) do not like this either and the rightist opposition TOP 09 considers Babis's procedure immoral. The Communists (KSCM) will support Babis' s proposal and the whole bill.

"...by seeking a general change to the law, Babis is solving his specific personal situation, which we do not consider correct," Belobradek said.

He said Babis did not propose the change in the past years on the recommendation of Finance Ministry officials. It is very strange that he ignores the expert advice now. He is probably reacting to public opinion, Belobradek said.

He said a number of questions accompanies Babis's financial transactions and the problems cannot be solved by Babis donating money for charity purposes.

"We have agreed across deputy groups to discuss and pass by a majoity the tax reliefs for voluntary blood donors. And now, all of a sudden, minister Babis is going to break in with his proposed change," CSSD deputy group Roman Sklenak said.

He said the bill may not be passed because of this. However, he has no problem with the taxation of bonds on principle, Sklenak said.

"If someone presents himself as a fighter against corruption, he should give a credible and clear explanation if he comes under suspicion of having behaved illegally and unethically in the area of taxes and property acquisitions," Belobradek said.

Babis is a billionaire who recently transferred his giant Agrofert Holding to trust funds in reaction to a new conflict of interest law.

Most recently, his opponents criticise him for having bought one-crown bonds worth billions of crowns, which were not subject to taxation, from his own company, Agrofert, in 2013.

"Unfortunately, the bill that previously laboriously won consensus across the political spectrum is turning into a political controversy now," TOP 09 deputies' group chairman Frantisek Laudat said, voicing fears about the bill's fate.

Similar apprehensions were voiced by the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS).

The Communists (KSCM) welcomed it that Babis is trying to solve the problem of untaxed bonds.

"The question is why this is being done now and why it was not initiated by the government," KSCM deputy chairman Jiri Dolejs said.

The opposition Dawn movement also takes a positive stance on Babis's proposal. Its head Marek Cernoch said the proposal will bring money in the state budget.

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