Extraordinary meeting of the House of Representatives on the proposal to limit the extraordinary June valorization of pensions, February 28, 2023, Prague. From the left, Minister of Finance Zbyněk Stanjura (ODS), Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan (STAN) and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL).
Prague – After roughly 30 hours of deliberations, the House of Representatives approved the program of the meeting tonight, the only point of which is the government's amendment to reduce the June valorization of pensions. Deputies are now debating whether there are conditions for an abbreviated discussion of the amendment, the approval of which is blocked by the opposition. Similar to the initial confirmation of the state of legislative emergency requested by the government, 65 MPs were registered for the discussion. Negotiations are likely to drag on past midnight again.
The approval of the program was preceded by a roughly seven-hour debate, in which the leaders of both opposition movements, Tomio Okamura (SPD) and Andrej Babiš (ANO), gave comprehensive speeches. Former Prime Minister Babiš spoke for over three hours, while the head of the SPD, in contrast to Tuesday's seven-hour speech, only spoke for two and a quarter hours. He made no secret of the fact that his goal was to prevent the adoption of the government proposal. Babiš had the same ambition, who, like Okamura, criticized the actions of the current coalition cabinet.
In his speech, Babiš returned to the planned projects of his cabinet. He blamed the current coalition for, among other things, the postponement of the construction law or the insufficient food self-sufficiency of the country. “I enforced two laws here – EET and the Gardening Act,” he said, among other things, pointing to current vegetable prices. He again called on Prime Minister Petr Fiala for the government to withdraw the pension amendment. “Then stop it and try to have a normal conversation with us,” Babiš urged the coalition. He expressed the hope that it will be possible to convince the incoming president Petr Pavel to veto the law on lower valuation of pensions. “I will not continue to terrorize you,” said Babiš at the end of the performance.
The House of Representatives has been debating the amendment since 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, so deputies were able to approve the program after about 37 hours from the beginning of the meeting. Only in the afternoon, the lower house decided by the votes of the coalition that it will discuss the government draft in a state of legislative emergency. She decided on this despite the fact that 66 opposition MPs, including their leaders, wanted to speak. The representatives of the coalition argued that the representatives of the opposition had the opportunity to speak during the two dozen hours of negotiations from the beginning of the meeting on Tuesday. The opposition wants to turn to the Constitutional Court because of this, and is also going to challenge the amendment itself.
The government amendment expects that the average monthly pension will increase by 760 crowns from June instead of the expected 1,770 crowns, as it would was according to the currently valid legal rules. According to the explanatory report, the state will save 19.4 billion crowns this year and 33 billion crowns next year.