Czech opposition calls no-confidence vote over Finance Minister

The opposition's no-confidence motion is likely to fail, since the government controls 111 seats in the 200-seat lower house of parliament.

Czech opposition calls no-confidence vote over Finance Minister

World Bulletin / News Desk 

The Czech opposition said on Thursday it would try to topple the centre-left cabinet after the ruling parties voted against ending state support for the rapeseed business, where Finance Minister Andrej Babis has a financial interest.

The opposition's no-confidence motion is likely to fail, since the government controls 111 seats in the 200-seat lower house of parliament. But it could focus attention on what the opposition sees as a conflict of interest on the part of Babis.

"We have the 50 signatures necessary to trigger the no-confidence vote ... we assume an extraordinary session will take place in the coming days," Petr Fiala, chairman of the right-wing opposition party Civic Democratic Party, said on Thursday.

Babis is the founder and chairman of the centrist ANO movement, part of the three-party government. He also owns the Agrofert group of chemicals and farming companies, which had revenue of 239 billion crowns ($9.8 billion) in 2014. One Agrofert company is the leading producer of biofuel made from rapeseed.

Babis has said he had a conflict of interest in the matter but was not abusing his position. He said on Thursday he did not benefit from the tax breaks.

"It is an excise tax discount, which brings profit to all who go to petrol stations for fuel," he said.

Babis himself abstained in the crucial vote. He had said lawmakers for ANO would support ending the tax break but they eventually did not.

The opposition sharply criticised that.

"What we witnessed yesterday was really outrageous," Fiala said.

Prime Minister and Social Democrat Chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said that the opposition lacked the votes to win. "It will be just a meaningless gesture," he said in a statement.

Sobotka has backed support for the rapeseed business, saying it benefited farmers.

Last Mod: 21 Mayıs 2015, 15:26
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