Govt won't up taxes to deal with coronavirus crisis

The government is not going to raise taxes in order to get out of the crisis caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus, Industry and Trade, and Transport Minister Karel Havlicek said, adding that the state budget will have to be restructured.

Direct aid to businesses will reach Kc100bn and indirect support in the form of guarantees will total Kc900bn, Havlicek said in the discussion programme Questions of Vaclav Moravec on the public broadcaster Czech Television (CT) on Sunday.

"We want to make investments to boost the economy and provide guarantees to obtain more funding," Havlicek said.He pointed out that this year's allocation for transport infrastructure projects will increase by Kc6.5bn to Kc113bn.

"State budget cuts will be necessary," said Radek Spicar, vice-president of the Confederation of Industry.

"No doubt about it," Havlicek said. However, public transport discounts for pensioners and students worth some Kc6.5bn will be preserved as it is a form of support for the socially disadvantaged groups, he added.

The Confederation and the cabinet are in talks on extending Antivirus programme, that is the kurzarbeit (shortened working time) scheme, from the current two to six months, said Spicar.

Businesses also need loans but the Covid loan programmes of CMZRB guarantee and development bank for firms with 250+ staff have not yet been approved, Spicar said.

Havlicek agreed with the extension of the kurzarbeit system but would not specify the number of months.Antivirus programme, within which employers can get money for employee wages, was launched on Monday but the Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of Commerce and Tourism and the Association of Hotels and Restaurants said the programme's conditions were unclear.

Havlicek said that after a meeting on Tuesday the government would make public scenarios of easing the restrictions in retail and services, which may involve three stages. Business associations' representatives said such plans were badly needed.

Source: ČTK

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