Business with groceries, shopping – illustration photo.
Prague – Today, the parliamentary coalition majority did not allow the program to be approved nor the second extraordinary meeting called at the instigation of the opposition movement ANO. The opposition wanted to debate on food prices. Before voting on the program, only speakers with priority rights could speak. An hour before, the majority of the House did not approve the program of another extraordinary opposition meeting, which was related to ANO's proposal to increase the parental allowance.
The opposition movements ANO and SPD accused the government of not doing anything against rising prices and of underestimating inflation. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee Michal Kučera (TOP 09) assured that his committee will deal with food prices and that even opposition members will be able to present their proposals there.
Deputy Speaker of the House and former minister Karel Havlíček (ANO) said that when ANO handed over the government in December 2021, inflation was at the EU average. According to him, the central banks are also responsible for the acceleration of inflation, because at the end of the pandemic they kept interest rates almost at zero. But then they progressed from extreme to extreme and interest rates started to increase too much, he described. According to him, the current government has “brutally” underestimated inflation. He pointed out that the government can exert its influence through the state budget, by regulating energy prices or by reducing value added tax. Havlíček also recalled his post on social networks, where he compared the prices of raw materials needed to prepare lech. According to him, it was an attempt to draw attention to the problem with food prices. “The lečo caught on, we didn't even expect it to catch on,” he said, adding that the lečo became a real hit.
“The independent CR has not yet experienced the current situation,” SPD chairman Tomio Okamura said. He accused the government of Petr Fiala (ODS) of not dealing with inflation and of a process of targeted impoverishment on the part of the government. According to him, the government and its devotion to orders from Brussels are responsible for the low quality and higher prices of food. “The Czech Republic has never in modern history experienced such a sharp rise in prices as in January this year,” said Radim Fiala, chairman of the SPD club. He believes that the government does not help domestic fruit growers against foreign competition and thereby crushes the market.
“Making lecho in January or February is not completely standard,” responded Kučera, chairman of the agricultural committee. “The agricultural committee will deal with the issue with all seriousness,” he assured. There are solutions, but they are not simple and do not consist in the fact that money will flow only from public budgets. “Unless, of course, the proposals are what I've heard here so far: give more public money, give more public money and as a bonus: give more public money,” he added.
According to Eurostat, domestic food prices rose by 27.2 percent last year, and the Czech Republic was the sixth in the EU in terms of food price increases. According to an earlier statement by the Food Chamber in the Czech Republic, there is currently no room for reducing food prices due to the ever-increasing costs of production and processing enterprises. The Chamber believes that food prices could rise slightly this year and gradually stabilize in the second half of the year. According to the Food Chamber, costs for producers rose by 50 to 80 percent year-on-year last year.
According to the Czech Statistical Office, consumer price growth accelerated to 17.5 percent in January. The office is to publish data on February inflation on Friday. The European Commission estimates inflation in the Czech Republic at 9.3 percent this year. The Czech Banking Association expects consumer prices to rise by 10.8 percent, and the Ministry of Finance expects average inflation of 10.4 percent. In the draft of this year's state budget, the government assumed that the average growth of consumer prices would slow down by roughly half compared to last year. Average inflation should fall from last year's 16.2 percent to 8.8 percent. Average annual inflation last year was 15.1 percent, according to data from the Czech Statistical Office.