Minister wants exemption from electronic cash register system for farmers’ markets

Photo: Halley Crane

The minister of agriculture has proposed exempting stall holders at farmers’ market from a new electronic cash register system that he says could drive some of them out of business. However, the finance minister says his cabinet colleague has left it too late to raise the issue.

Photo: Halley Crane
Farmers’ markets first appeared in their current form in the Czech Republic in 2010, when a string of them were set up in Prague. They have proven a hit.

A survey conducted for Czech Television by the TNS Aisa polling agency suggests that eight percent of consumers buy produce at farmers’ markets every week. In Prague the figure is around 20 percent.

The Ministry of Finance is currently readying a long-planned system under which it will be compulsory for retailers to operate electronic cash registers linked to a tax authority database.

Opponents say the electronic cash register system will overly complicate the lives of retailers, and there have been worries that it will force some stall holders at farmers’ markets out of business.

Among those calling for them to be exempted from the system is the minister of agriculture, Marian Jurečka.

Marian Jurečka,  photo: Filip Jandourek
Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, Mr. Jurečka rejected the suggestion that regular retailers could pose as small farmers in a bid to get around the rules.

“In practice we are very capable of ascertaining who is a real farmer and is selling his own produce and who is just a reseller. We can ascertain this on the basis of the fact that farmers have to have a tax number and they have to have their land registered. We also have data on animal husbandry. If somebody is selling onions, we can see if he really grows onions.”

The electronic cash register system is the brainchild of the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, who says it will greatly reduce tax evasion.

Mr. Babiš says that Minister Jurečka has left it far too late to start calling for an exemption for stall holders at farmers’ markets.

However, the latter says there is broad backing for his proposal.

Andrej Babiš,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“I still think that there’s a chance we can succeed in discussing the bill before the second wave of the system. From the reaction of other MPs and deputies groups, I think there is room for an amendment. Because the electronic cash registers would be too much of a burden and some stall holders may end their activities – but at the same time the system won’t lead to results in terms of revenue and effectiveness for the state.”

The first phase of the electronic cash register system begins on December 1 and will concern pub and restaurant operators. The entire system should be in place by June 2018.