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 – Today, shortly after 2:00 a.m. and after 16 hours of debate, the House of Representatives adjourned the discussion on whether, in a state of legislative emergency, it should discuss the controversial government proposal to reduce the extraordinary June valorization of pensions. The opposition clubs ANO and SPD requested a four-hour break in the meeting. The House of Representatives will continue the debate from 6:03 a.m., announced Jan Skopeček (ODS), chairman of the meeting. According to the head of the ANO club, Alena Schillerová, there were not many arguments from the government coalition for discussing the proposal in a state of legislative emergency. It also lacked the presence of the Minister for Legislation, Michal Šalomoun (for the Pirates), who excused himself from the meeting just before six o'clock in the morning.
She noted that it would be dishonest of her to ask for a break for her club's meeting, but said that the break is for the rest and hygiene of ANO MPs. Radim Fiala, chairman of the SPD club, expressed a similar opinion. “I firmly believe that at six o'clock in the morning, when we meet here, Minister Šalomoun will mainly be here, so that we can continue this professional debate,” said Schillerová.
The meeting of the House began at 10:00 am on Tuesday and continued without a break into the night. SPD chairman Tomio Okamura alone spoke for seven hours straight. Before midnight, the debate again slipped into verbal discourse in the form of factual remarks of no more than two minutes, which, according to the rules of procedure, are used to respond to the course of the debate. The opposition claims that there is no reason to discuss the proposal in abbreviated proceedings. The Chairman of the Constitutional and Legal Committee Radek Vondráček (ANO) proposed to limit the state of legislative emergency so that it ends by the end of today. On Tuesday, SPD chairman Tomio Okamura suggested abolishing this status completely.
ANO MP Ondřej Babka proposed ending the state of legislative emergency by 1:00 p.m. today. The submitted motions will be voted on after the debate on whether the reasons for declaring this status remain. Babka admitted that if the vote is held after 1:00 p.m., his proposal will become pointless.
The government's argument for the chosen procedure in the explanatory memorandum is mainly the significant economic damage that the state faces without the adoption of the bill.
Some opposition speakers repeatedly complained about the absence of Minister Šalomoun. They expected him to explain on behalf of the government why the government had approached this form of abbreviated discussion of the bill. Roman Kubíček (ANO) noted that he was beginning to get the impression that Šalomoun did not even want to appear, because he said he did not want to tell the truth. Jana Mračková Vildumetzová (ANO) described Šalomoun's absence as an outrageous act.
The opposition blames the government for having known about the need to increase pensions in advance from macroeconomic predictions. Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) repeated that the impetus for the government's proposal was a significant increase in inflation between December and January, which the cabinet only learned about on February 10. Jurečka also responded to the criticisms of the opposition that the government waited with the proposal until after the presidential elections. He said that in that case he would present the proposal on the Monday after the second round of the presidential election, which took place at the end of January.
The government amendment envisages that the average monthly pension will increase by 760 crowns from June instead of the expected 1,770 crowns, as it would be 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.