Coalition Council discusses issue of distrainment amnesty

The ruling coalition, which turned down the opposition’s proposal to grant amnesty on distrainment orders where debtors are tax offices, social insurer and health insurers, has now opened this issue based on its own proposal.

Distrainment procedure, illustrative stock photo.Distrainment procedure, illustrative stock photo.(Source: Sme)

Representatives of the ruling coalition – Smer, the Slovak National Party (SNS) and Most-Híd gathered at the Government Office January 15; but SNS leader and Speaker of Parliament Andrej Danko was absent due to illness.

The changes, which should allow debt relief, were prepared by Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská (Most-Híd). Danko told Slovak media over the weekend that specific measures would be discussed not only within the coalition but also with the opposition parties. He added that talks would be held with representatives of the social insurer Sociálna Poistovňa, Financial Administration (the tax office) and health insurance companies. The SNS leader noted, as quoted by the TASR newswire, that he supports a general pardon by Sociálna Poisťovňa.

The coalition spoke about the distrainment amnesty beginning last May. Zitňanská drew attention to the 3.7 million distrainment proceedings currently handled by the courts. She pointed out that some people are undergoing dozens of small distrainment processes preventing them from living normally.

The opposition Sme Rodina (We Are Family) movement failed to push through a distrainment amnesty in the past. The party proposed that after paying back their debts, people would be forgiven interest charges for late payment and the administrator of the claim would file a motion preventing enforced collection. But Parliament rejected the bill in May.

Coalition partners object

The Coalition Council has not completed the issue yet, Justice Ministry spokesman Peter Bubla informed TASR. SNS first deputy chairman Jaroslav Paška said that the partners may come up with objections.

“At the Coalition Council today (January 15), the minister presented a concept to the coalition partners,” Bubla said. “The coalition partners will study it and will return to it at the end of January. When we definitively agree on this proposal, we’ll be happy to present individual measures in detail.”

Paška confirmed for TASR that some matters relating to the distrainment amnesty are still unresolved. SNS would like to focus on certain deadlines within the proposals for changes, he added. For example, he thinks that it would be good to deal mainly with older distrainment processes in particular and not those that appeared a few months ago.

SNS’ Danko said for the media that when the coalition rejected the opposition proposal in May, it was mostly due to these unresolved aspects and the low expertise of the draft solution.

Even Prime Minister Robert Fico thinks that the amnesty need not be applied to everyone affected by enforced collection procedures. A mechanism for handling people who have come under the amnesty should be found as well.

Minister Žitňanská raised the topic of proving the origin of the property of public officials, Paška added. The coalition discussed whether proving the origin of property could be resolved in some other way than now. Fico indicated options relating to tax laws. The PM conceded last year that a new constitutional law on proving the origin of property could be adopted.

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