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Parliament approves Fico's package

YESTERDAY the parliament approved most of the measures in a package through which the ruling coalition will start fulfilling its campaign promises. These measures include higher tax for people with above average incomes, reduced VAT on drugs and healthcare products, mortgage support for young people, and higher health insurance payments for people insured by the state, the Sme daily wrote.

The majority of changes are directly connected with next year's state budget, which parliament started discussing yesterday.

According to the approved legislation, the state will pay 5 percent rather than the current 4 percent of the average wage to its health insurance clients including children, mothers on maternity leave, and the unemployed. The increased payments, however, will only be paid during the first four months of next year. The hike should bring an extra Sk2.1 billion to the health care system.

The parliament also approved the 'millionaire tax', which will apply to people earning Sk47,600 gross per month. Starting with this amount, people's non-taxable minimum, which people deduct from their base income, will gradually decrease. A person earning Sk50,000 per month, for example, will thus see his or her tax increase by Sk1,200 per year.

The parliament also approved new rules for the so-called assignation tax that people can donate to NGOs. Individuals will be able to donate 2 percent of their paid tax to NGOs only if the sum is no less than Sk100 as opposed to the current minimum of Sk20. Legal entities will have to pay at least Sk250 but have a ceiling of Sk1 million. As of 2008, the money will only be able to go to NGOs that deal with specific areas of life, including health care and protection, social assistance, sports activities for young people, and the preservation of cultural values.

First-time parents will be entitled to a state contribution of Sk15,460, which is Sk11,000 more than is currently paid to parents regardless of the number of children in a given family.

The parliament also passed the advantageous mortgage loans scheme that will grant lower interest rates to young people of up to 35 years of age who earn no more than 1.3-times the average monthly wage.

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