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October 16, 2021

 

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Czech MP for governing ANO movement: Support for the nonprofit sector is important to the integration of the Roma

7.10.2021 12:13
Eva Fialová (PHOTO: Facebook)
Eva Fialová (PHOTO: Facebook)

The ANO movement says it wants to support the nonprofit sector in the Czech Republic, which is playing an important role in integrating Romani people, and that it also wants to beef up the housing stock owned by municipalities and the accessibility of social housing, as well as support education more, including through providing scholarships. Czech MP Eva Fialová (ANO) made those statements in response to the questions sent by news server Romea.cz in the runup to the elections to the lower house now underway. 

In her view, there is a problem with the abuse of welfare in the Czech Republic, but it is not easy to calculate the amount that is being misused. Affordable housing is said to be considered another important point of the ANO program.

Election season interviews by Romea.cz

News server Romea.cz contacted the seven leaders of the political coalitions and parties that have a chance of entering the Chamber of Deputies during the elections to the lower house this year. We based our choice on polls conducted by the Kantar agency during September and sent the same set of questions to the candidates Robert Šlachta (Přísaha - The Oath), Jan Hamáček (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD), Vojtěch Filip (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia - KSČM), Tomio Okamura ("Freedom and Direct Democracy" - SPD), Ivan Bartoš (Pirates + STAN), Petr Fiala (Spolu- Together) and Andrej Babiš (ANO - Association of Dissatisfied Citizens). 

We have been gradually publishing their responses in this order, from the candidates who are less popular to those who are the most popular. The first candidate was meant to have been Šlachta, but he never sent us his responses.

On Saturday, 2 October we published our interviews beginning with the statewide leader of the Social Democrats, Hamáček, followed by our interview with the statewide leader and chair of the KSČM, Vojtěch Filip. We also contacted the chair of the SPD and its statewide leader, Okamura, but he never answered us; instead, Czech MP Lucie Šafránková (SPD) responded, so we published her answers to these questisons, as well as the responses we have received from the frontrunner for the Pirate-STAN coalition, the chair of the Czech Pirate Party, Ivan Bartoš. 

News server Romea.cz also contacated the Spolu coalition's lead candidate, Petr Fiala, but he did not directly respond, and an answer was sent on behalf of the entire coalition, which we published yesterday. We also sent questions to the statewide leader and chair of the ANO movement, Andrej Babiš, who in his role as Prime Minister chairs the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs, but he couldn't find the time to respond, so the answers for the movement have been supplied by Czech MP Eva Fialová (ANO). 

Q:  What does your party have in its electoral program in terms of proposals for the inclusion of Romani people?

A:  We will continue to support the nonprofit sector, which plays an important role in the integration of Roma. As we have already mentioned, we want to beef up the housing stock owned by municipalities and the accessibility of social housing, and we also want to support education more, including through scholarships. At the same time, however, it is not possible to ignore the personal responsibility of each individual, or of each group of inhabitants.

Q:  In the socially excluded localities, voter turnout has long been low. How do you explain that?

We can interpret low participation as due to the need among such people to address the current problems of everyday life, they don't assign as much weight to politics because they do not believe it will resolve their problems of the moment.

Q:  Do you have any Romani men or women running as candidates? If not, why, and if so - why?   

A:  Yes, especially during local elections there are Romani men and women on our candidate lists. However, ethnicity cannot play a role when we are selecting candidates in any way whatsoever.

Q:  Some parties are speaking about what they are calling the abuse of welfare by "inadaptables". Do you agree that such a problem exists? Are benefts being abused on a massive scale? If so, what is the financial volume involved?

A:  I agree that such a problem exists, and it can also be considered abuse if the resources paid out for children's educations are used instead to cover rent or other needs of the family. Another example is unemployed people taking advantage of state support while simultaneously working in the grey economy, which is caused to a great extent by individuals being in collections proceedings. From that perspective it is not possible to exactly determine the financial volume of the lost income to the state coffers, in the form of contributions made to social security by those who are regularly employed, but not made by those working in the grey economy, as well as the volume of the finances that the state is unjustifiably disbursing to people who should not be entitled to them.  

Q:  In what context do you use the term "inadaptable", and who are you talking about? If you don't use it, could you please explain why? 

A:  That concept should not be used in association with designating a member of a certain group in the population. Frequently it is perceived negatively as describing those who refuse to meet their obligations.

Q:  The prices of real estate and rental housing are constantly growing, and housing is becoming unaffordable for ordinary families. Is the building of social apartments the solution? Will you be seeing through a law on social housing? 

A:  The affordability of housing has become, in recent years, a burning problem for all of society. That is why in recent years we have wanted to support more units being built. We will be implementing construction of housing by the state. Together with the private sector we will build rental units, and together with municipalities we will build affordable housing, and not just for senior citizens, but also social housing for those in need.   

Q:  How would you like to prevent trafficking in poverty?

A:  The basis is to lower rents. Traffickers in poverty charge exorbitant sums for substandard housing and the socially vulnerable have no other alternative. For that reason, we want to invest into social housing owned by individual municipalities. 

Q:  The Constitutional Court has abolished the housing benefit-free zones. What is your opinion of that decision? Will you advocate for the adoption of such a law in the future?

A:  That was an instrument that made it possible for municipalities to regulate the number of residents moving into locations with the most problems. We have to respect the court's decision. It appears that what is more effective than advocating for a similar law is prevention, rather, so that such localities do not come into being in the first place or expand. The instrument for achieving that is, again, investing into housing that is municipally owned.  

Q:  Are you considering legislating compulsory school attendance until age 18, as is the case elsewhere in the world, to guarantee that some children, after primary school, don't fall out of the education system?

A:  No. It is the parents' responsibility to arrange for their children to complete their compulsory school attendance. At the same time, we are of the opoinion that all parents who are responsible keep the welfare of their children in mind and want the best possible future for them. For that reason, the parent should motivate the child to study above and beyond the framework of a primary education. Thanks to our MPs, we have already added a provision to the laws by which the remuneration for work paid to apprentices being instructed in the practical secondary schools is no longer considered part of that student's family's income overall - frequently that income, however small, became a reason for pupils to leave the education system early in order to main the economic stability of the entire family.  

Q: Some regions, for example, the Ústecký Region, are considered below-average compared to others in terms of education. How do you plan to improve the situations in regions where there have long been lower numbers of high school and college graduates? 

A: Those regions have a high percentage of pupils who have not completed primary education, dropping out of compulsory school attendance in the seventh or eighth grade. Without the necessary knowledge it is, therefore, extremely difficult for them to access or complete high school or college. The reform of the schools should more flexibly respond, therefore, to labor market needs, so that graduates can apply themselves immediately after completing their studies. Establishing collaborations with entrepreneurs locally is desirable so practicums could be performed right with future employers. 

Q: What is your opinion of the targeted support for the education of Romani students? Specifically, for example, scholarships for Romani high school or college students? How can we increase the levels of education achieved by Romani men and women in the Czech Republic?

A: It is generally important to support students. Each child who is gifted should be supported during their studies through achievement-based scholarships. Support that is targeted should have predefined rules and the selection of students has to be sufficiently transparent. 

Q: What specific steps should the Government take during the next parliamentary session so that the state sufficiently prepares itself for the threat of yet another COVID-19 wave or for a different pandemic in the near future?

A: The Government is much better prepared today than it was in the past. We have enough personal protective equipment, the Government is prepared, in case of necessity, to renew the across-the-board testing of employees and students. We reiterate constantly, however, that the best protection against COVID-19 disease is immunization. We are doing our best to motivate all citizens to be vaccinated. We would like to recall that the absolutely first person in the Czech Republic to be vaccinated was Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who wanted to demonstrate to all our citizens by doing so that there is no reason to be concerned about the vaccine.   

Q: How, in your view, should immunizations take place? Should they be compulsory, for example? Should that be for all, or just for certain professions that customarily come into contact with a wider group of people? 

A: Immunizations should always be voluntary.

Q: How do you plan to approach immunizations in the socially excluded localities? Are you planning more outreach about vaccination, or even social work right in the field that could motivate the inhabitants of such places to get immunized? Will your party address this in any special way?

A: Centers for immunization are distributed all over the country. Vaccination sites that do not require pre-registration have also been set up. Each region has set up its own immunobuses or mobile vaccination vehicles, travelling right now to excluded localities, also, or to different cultural and social events. In each excluded locality, several nonprofit organizations work that could play an outreach role. 

Rena Horvátová, Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Andrej Babiš, ANO, campaign, elections 2021



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