Opposition plans to block speedy approval of austerity package

The opposition parties are preparing to block speedy approval of the government’s austerity package, acting Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists today. The measures include partial cancellation of birth allowances, changes in the payment of parental allowances and reduced contribution to care for the disabled. Fifty votes against the proposal in its first reading would make it unlikely to pass through Parliament this year, as it would then have to undergo the routine three readings in the lower house. The austerity package is part of the government's plan to reduce the budget deficit. It must also be approved by the Senate and President Vaclav Klaus.