Prague Mayor dresses as devil, delivers St. Nicholas coal to Czech MPs

Zdeněk Hřib and other regional officials brought coal to the Czech parliament in a playful protest against "budget hell" yesterday.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 06.12.2020 09:49 (updated on 06.12.2020) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, Central Bohemia regional governor Petra Pecková, Pardubice governor Martin Netolický, and others dressed up as devils to bring St. Nicholas presents of coal and potatoes to members of Czech parliament yesterday.

St. Nicholas Day (or Mikuláš), celebrated on the evening of December 5, is one of the most popular Advent holidays in the Czech Republic. Children receive sweets and small gifts from St. Nicholas, who visits households accompanied by an angel and a devil; naughty children might receive coal.

The gift from Hřib and the other regional officials was given to Czech MPs for what they claim will be "budget hell" caused by planned tax changes.

During a ten-minute mock event at Prague's Malostranské náměstí near the seat of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, the governors told reporters that the coal was a gift for the impact of planned tax changes on self-ruling bodies.

The tax package includes the abolition of the super-gross salary, a taxable gross salary that includes health and social insurance payments covered by employers. It also introduces new income tax rates of 15 and 23 percent, which the governors say would not only affect the state budget, but also cause immense losses in the billions of crowns to regional budgets.

"She will put an extra 500 to 2,000 crowns in people's pockets, but no drinking water will run as there will be no money for water pipeline repairs," Pecková (STAN) said about the planned tax changes, referring to Finance Minister Alena Schillerová (ANO).

The Central Bohemia Region would lose two billion crowns due to the tax changes, and therefore it might replace the current free public transport for schoolchildren with discounts, Pecková added.

The capital city of Prague, which has the status of a region, and the Pardubice Region will have to reduce their operational costs, Hřib (Pirates) and Netolický (3PK) said.

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Two mayors of smaller municipalities also participated in the Prague event, dressed as devils to protest losses in their municipalities' finances.

Before a debate on the government tax package in the Senate, the upper house, PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) promised that the loss in the revenues for regions and municipalities would be covered by an additional 20 billion crowns a year for the next two years.

However, Netolický pointed out that the decline in the regional revenues would be higher, causing them not only to end their investments, but also problems in funding the operation of towns and villages.

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