Former Czech PM Babiš will reverse Fiala’s unpopular austerity measures if reelected

Czech Republic's former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has vowed to repeal all the tax increases recently announced by incumbent Petr Fiala’s administration should he return to office.

In an interview with Dení, the ANO leader accused the current government of succeeding in driving away foreign investment after creating a toxic environment for business, and pledged to undo the austerity measures Czechia is currently implementing.

“We have always reduced taxes, we reduced them by 504 billion crowns (€21.2 billion). When I became finance minister, I pushed for tax cuts, and we achieved that,” Babiš told the news site.

“The YES movement has always reduced taxes, and we want to continue doing so. Now there is no reason to raise taxes,” he added.

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The former Czech leader accused Fiala of failing to set an example “either in spending or in income,” after the Czech government announced widespread austerity measures including the abolition of 22 tax exemptions, the merging of three tax rates into two, and an increase in corporate income taxes and property taxes.

The tax hikes come despite a repeated pledge by Fiala and other government officials not to do so. “We are not going to raise people’s taxes, even though there is a certain demand here,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in an interview with the Blesk newspaper in November last year.

“What kind of entrepreneur wants to do business in the Czech Republic when he doesn’t know if (Finance Minister) Stanjura will wake up again and suddenly it will be 23 percent and then 30 percent?” Babiš said in reference to the higher taxes.

It’s not just businesses who will feel the pinch, but ordinary Czech workers, too. On Tuesday, the ČMKOS trade union published the results of a survey that showed the average Czech family will have between 17 and 20 percent less disposable income per year after the introduction of the government measures.

The union has demanded a debate on the issues and has not ruled out strike action.

“We stand by the decision on strike readiness. No one discussed those measures with us. On Thursday, we learned that most of the government’s measures concern employees, and on Sunday, that they will not be discussed with us, that approval by the Chamber of Deputies is just a formality. We perceive the impacts very strongly,” Josef Středula, chairman of the ČMKOS told journalists.

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