PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Social Democrats have reached a deal with the centrist ANO movement and the Christian Democrats that clears the way to forming a centre-left government following an early election in October.
The following are the main policy points of the coalition’s programme released on Friday.
The three coalition parties aim to keep the budget deficit below an EU-prescribed limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product. The parties plan no tax changes in 2014 and will not change personal or corporate tax rates, the latter at 19 percent, for the time being.
But the agreement keeps open the possibility of putting a small new tax on regulated sectors, i.e. banks or utilities, from 2015, which would raise 4 billion crowns ($200 million) per year if other savings cannot be found.
The coalition also wants to lower the sales tax on medicines, books and diapers.
It wants tax relief for working pensioners and families that have a second child or more.
The agreement counts on raising the gambling tax and eliminating tax bonuses for self-employed individuals who post losses. It also foresees creating compulsory notifications on payments to subjects in tax havens, as one way to crack down on tax evasion.
The coalition parties pledged to continue in closer European integration and to prepare the country for its eventual entry into the euro zone, including by taking steps like joining the EU’s fiscal compact or the banking union. No euro entry target date is set in the coalition deal, however.
The coalition wants to deepen its strategic dialogue with its neighbour and biggest trade partner Germany.
The coalition will support majority state-owned utility CEZ in expanding its 2,000 MW Temelin nuclear power plant but only if it is “economically beneficial”.
The wording is vague and does not reveal if the coalition would back a plan to fix the price of electricity for the new power plant, a condition for CEZ to build it.
The agreement also says the coalition will not lift a moratorium on shale gas exploration and will not allow exploration for gold.
The coalition will end a pension reform under which people were allowed, from this year, to transfer part of compulsory social tax into their own individual pension accounts. The change will not make a big dent in the system because fewer than 100,000 people have joined so far.
It will support voluntary private pension savings.
The parties also want to gradually raise the minimum monthly wage to 40 percent of the national average wage, which was 24,836 crowns ($1,200) a month in the third quarter. That implies a rise to around 10,000 crowns from the current 8,500.
The government will cancel fees for visiting a doctor. The fee, although set at just 1.1 euros, has become a rallying cry in the country, which is used to health care being fully financed from compulsory public health insurance.
It will also discontinue a 100 crown per day fee for hospital care.
Public anger with sleaze in politics dominated the election campaign and brought new parties into parliament.
The coalition will propose a law allowing authorities to determine beneficiary owners of companies. Companies that refuse to reveal their ownership will not have access to public tenders and subsidies. This will apply to their subcontractors as well.
It will propose creating a public register of public contracts to raise transparency.
It will propose a limit on campaign financing and legislation to protect whistle blowers. ($1 = 19.9894 Czech crowns)
Reporting by Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Hugh Lawson