Government Extends Antivirus Job Support Programme to End of May
Employers who have had to suspend or restrict operations due to the coronavirus epidemic will be able to obtain wage payment reimbursements from the State for the period from 12 March all the way to the end of May. Andrej Babiš’s administration decided on the month-long extension of the Antivirus Programme on Monday, 27 April.
The Antivirus Programme makes it possible to recognise the costs incurred by employers on employee wages, including mandatory contributions for the period that this obstacle to work existed on the employers’ side due to closure or restriction of operations as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, be it because of a direct decision by the Government as part of the announced preventive measures or as a result of secondary events related to the epidemic. The Government approved this job support instrument on 31 March with validity until 30 April. As the reasons for awarding this aid will continue through May for many companies, the Government decided today to extend it to 31 May. Employers will thus be able to request a wage payment reimbursement for May as well. More information can be found in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs press release (in Czech language).
The Government also approved the Ministry of Health proposal to cancel the debts of state-run hospitals, as these institutions have long had problems paying their debts and are now experiencing an even greater deterioration of their economic situation. The hospitals in question are: General University Hospital in Prague, Královské Vinohrady University Hospital, Na Bulovce Hospital, Thomayer Hospital, Brno University Hospital and St Anne’s University Hospital in Brno. The Government will release almost CZK 6.6 billion from budget reserves in their favour. Details can be found in the Ministry of Health press release (in Czech language).
Ministers also agreed with the deployment of the Czech Armed Forces to facilities operated by healthcare providers providing follow-up rehabilitative bed care. Soldiers will help at chronic care centres, social service facilities and nursing homes that have become Covid-19 hotspots, especially in Cheb and Marianské Lázně, and are unable, due to infected staff, to care for clients without outside assistance.
The Government also approved an increase in funding for the salaries of professional soldiers in the amount of CZK 35.59 million, which will be used to remunerate and compensate those Czech Armed Forces members who are helping manage the coronavirus epidemic. For the same reasons, ministers also agreed to increase funding for the salaries of customs officers by CZK 44.18 million, police officers by CZK 783.89 million and firefighters by CZK 99.76 million.
The Government again dealt with the issue of completion of new nuclear reactor units. Ministers discussed the contractual framework of cooperation with ČEZ. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Transport Karel Havlíček was tasked by the Government to begin negotiating with the European Commission for public aid by “notification”. More details can be found in the Ministry of Industry and Trade press release (in Czech language).
Ministers also discussed several important bills. They approved the draft amendment to the Act on Promoted Energy Sources and to the Act on Business Conditions and Public Administration in the Energy Sector. One of the objectives of the amendment is to eliminate further government expenditure in support of operations and to allow the option of taking into account annually the situation on the energy market to the maximum extent possible through a Government regulation. At the same time, the draft amendment transposes into Czech law the commitments of the Czech Republic stemming from issued European Commission decisions on the compatibility of aid for energy acquired through renewable sources and combined electricity and heat production with the EU internal market.
The Government also approved the draft Act on Private Security Activities. Creating a special law for this specific business environment should allow stricter conditions to be imposed on the activities of private security service, requirements on this sector to be clearly defined and control activities to be improved. The legislation will thus help eliminate inferior or high-risk operators from the market and generally improve the quality of their services. More details can be found in the Minister of the Interior press release (in Czech language).
Ministers also approved the draft amendment to the Tax Code submitted by the Ministry of Finance. This is essentially a resubmission of the proposal that failed to gain approval from the Chamber of Deputies after being rejected by the Senate. The basis of the draft is implementation of the MOJE daně (MY Taxes) project, which should help simplify the tax system and support the computerisation of tax administration. The draft amendment also simplifies control procedures, revises the sanctioning system and newly addresses the issue of tax deduction returns.
Unlike the Parliamentary Press, which did not see success in Parliament previously, the Ministry managed to prepare several changes. It deleted, for example, the proposal for the factual extension of the deadline for returning tax deductions from 30 to 45 days in the case of the implicit stipulation of tax deductions and modified the concept of tax deduction advances to allow claims for this advance to be assessed by the tax administrator during a tax inspection or upon commencement of the procedure for eliminating doubts and not before a tax inspection is commenced. The effective date of this new piece of legislation has thus been moved to 1 January 2021.