Situation of most Czechs worsening - Social Watch

Prague - The situation of most Czechs has worsened, due to the excessive government budget cuts, with people with the lowest incomes being the most afflicted, the Czech part of the annual report of the Social Watch group said today.

The worsening of the situation in the country has generated anti-Romany moods that lead to "attempts at pogroms," the report said.

Politics is accompanied with corruption, it added.

Social Watch associates 700 organisations from 70 countries. It focuses on the struggle with poverty, racism and discrimination and on environmental protection.

"The year 2012 was not good for most inhabitants of the Czech Republic. In 2012, the country still did not reach the level from 2008 and the gap behind the neighbouring countries is widening," it added.

The report criticises the Prime Minister Petr Necas centre-right government that stepped down in June.

It says the government had no vision and positive economic programme.

"Fiscal consolidation," which meant budget cuts, was its only objective, the report said.

The cuts contributed to the stagnation of the Czech economy, it added.

They limited its consumption that fell by 3.5 percent, while inflation grew by 3.3 percent, the report said.

The growth in prices mainly afflicted low-income people who started shopping abroad where some goods are cheaper, it added.

Uncertainty increased on the labour market. Many people found jobs, but did not receive the usual work contract. Some of them only had temporary contracts or worked as self-employed, the report said.

Poverty is threatening one-fifth of the working people, more women than men, it added.

Their real wage has decreased, the report said.

The report points to the absence of social housing in the Czech Republic.

It criticises forced moving of the people in trouble into overpriced and unsuitable dormitories, the report said.

"This is happening much more often than in the previous years," the activists say, adding that mostly Romanies end up in the ghettoes.

The report writes about the serious problem of "attempts at pogroms" on Romanies.

It says minor or seeming conflicts can spark off the pogroms. The report highlights the case from Breclav, south Moravia, in which a 15-year-old boy was injured. He falsely claimed that he had been beaten up by Romanies.

This provoked anti-Romany demonstrations in the town that "would have turned into a pogrom if the police had not intervened," the report said.

The report also described the riots targeting Romanies in Duchcov, north Bohemia, and Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia, this year.

After the regional elections last year, more women appeared in regional assemblies. Their proportion has increased from about 18 percent to 20 percent.

"This minimum increase has proven again that one cannot rely on natural development. Systemic changes must be implemented that would bring about equal representation of men and women in politics," the report said.

It says quotas and further measures would help, but Czech politicians reject them.

The report said "corruption has become the most visible problem of Czech politics."

The activists highlighted the high bonuses for Jana Nagyova, former closest aide of Necas with whom he has a romance, and lucrative jobs in state-owned companies for the deputies who gave up their parliamentary mandates.

The activists are of the view that the state has been undergoing a decline and the general public has resigned as anti-government demonstrations are only attended by a handful of protesters.

NGOs do not get involved in politics, for fear for their subsidies, the report said.

Social Watch was established in 1995. The Czech Social Watch coalition is composed of eight organisations: The Ecumenic Academy Prague, Gender Studies, Forum 50 %, Masaryk Democratic Academy, the Intransigent group, the Trust for Economy and Society, Eurosolar and Alternative 50+.

Author: ČTK