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Czech Pirates sharply criticize bill to toughen criteria for aid to those in material distress

4.8.2021 9:52
Czech Pirate Party chair Ivan Bartoš (left) and
Czech Pirate Party chair Ivan Bartoš (left) and "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) chair Tomio Okamura (2021). (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons, collage: Romea.cz)

The Czech Chamber of Deputies has yet to pass a bill submitted by the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement of Tomio Okamura to toughen the criteria for the disbursal of aid to those in material distress, and debate on the bill last week involved disputes among MPs in which the Pirates were especially critical of the bill as well as accused of obstructing it. The Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) did not achieve a vote on the issue in the lower house during its 28 July session due to protracted discussion of a different amendment to increase the remuneration for foster parents and the allocations per foster child. 

The Chamber of Deputies ended up not voting on either issue last week. The argument among the MPs was also about who was to blame for the lack of progress. 

Pirate MP Olga Richterová called the SPD bill on aid to those in material distress a "wolf in sheep's clothing". In her view, it would harm tens of thousands of people who are not to blame for their predicaments, including people living with disabilities, people living with mental illnesses, and senior citizens. 

Speaking for those who submitted that bill, MP Monika Jarošová (SPD) said that it aimed to make sure social support from the state serves to aid exclusively persons who are actively doing their best to extricate themselves from their adverse situations and those who are unable to work for objective reasons. The SPD MP emphasized that welfare benefits should not become an alternative to work. 

After Pirate MP Mikuláš Ferjenčík unsuccessfully proposed that the Chamber of Deputies return to discussing and voting on the amendent about foster parent remuneration, MP Tomio Okamura, the chair of the SPD, accused the Pirate Party of obstruction. "It's because of you that even support for foster parents is being blocked," Okamura declared. 

Ferjenčík replied that "Democracy is also about the minority being able to present their arguments," reminding the lower house that the Pirates have always wanted the amendment about foster parent remuneration to take priority. The governing ANO (Association of Dissatisfied Citizens) movement also criticized the Pirates' approach, and their chair of the Social Committee in the lower house, MP Jana Pastuchová, said the Pirates had blocked the SPD bill on aid to those in material distress during more than one parliamentary session. 

Communist MP Hana Aulická Jírovcová said she saw campaigning ahead of the autumn elections as being behind these developments in the lower house negotiations. "Don't turn this into a farce," the Communist MP said.

Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová (ČSSD) called the situation "bedlam". The minister observed that "We have been discussing these laws for one year with no results."

The vice-chair of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) faction in the lower house, MP Jana Černochová, then outlined a proposal for returning to the discussion on foster parent remuneration during a future extraordinary session on an additional increase to pensions from 2022. The Labor Minister then asked the lower house to continue their final discussion of foster parent remunerations on either Wednesday, 18 August or Friday, 20 August in order not to endanger adoption of the amendment to the pensions scheme.

SB, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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ČSSD, Pirátská strana, Sněmovna, social issues



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