Czech inter-ministerial group to help regions with social tensions
An inter-ministerial group comprised of representatives of several ministries, municipalities and regional authorities will be convened to solve the problems of regions experiencing social tensions. Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Czech Social Democrats - ČSSD) announced the group yesterday to journalists at the conclusion of his visit to the Ústí Region.
Chovanec said the group should help with the Karlovy Vary, Moravian-Silesian, and Ústí regions. It will include representatives of the Environment, Interior, Labor, and Trade Ministries, as well as the Czech Government Council for National Minorities.
"I believe the Finance Ministry will join the group in the final phase," Chovanec said. The group should address support for investment, the regulation of salvage operations, and security.
Chovanec said he considers addressing social housing and bringing an end to the state contributions to the overpriced rents charged by residential hotels to be the most important priority. He said that in the Šluknov district he had seen a two-room apartment of the lowest category, without heat, for which people were paying CZK 8 500 monthly in rent alone.
"This trafficking in human calamity, in human poverty, must end. I saw frustrated locals, frustrated residential hotel tenants, and one or two entrepreneurs laughing all the way to the bank," Chovanec said.
The minister said the first outputs should be submitted by the group within the next few weeks. "Within the next 14 days we would like to submit the first basic conceptual materials and then I presume the Prime Minister will want a report to the Government roughly once a month on how the process is continuing," he said.
Municipalities and regions will also receive an invitation to work in the group. Oldřich Bubeníček (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia - KSČM), the Governor of Ústí Region, said local authorities would be involved.
"We will take advantage of this offer in any event. I think it would be good for us to receive information from them and for information directly from the field to be given to the group," Bubeníček said.
The Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry has drafted an amendment to the law on aid to those in material distress that should resolve the situation of the state contributing to the overpriced rents charged by the owners of apartment buildings and residential hotels. The law could take effect next year and Czech MP Jaroslav Foldyna (ČSSD) of Děčín wants to propose that the lower house convene an extraordinary session to review a package of social laws and fast-track them.
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