The invoicing covered remunerations for expert statements and office work that MPs are entitled to. However, MPs of other parties do not obtain these services from their parent political parties, but from third parties, such as law offices or consultancies. These suppliers pay due VAT on the earnings generated.
“Minister Babiš is wielding a bulletproof argument,” said Vladimír Koníček (Communist), head of the parliamentary control committee. “He insists that political parties are forbidden by law from undertaking business activities, therefore services provided by the party to its MPs and subsequently invoiced to the chamber can under no circumstances constitute a business undertaking. And that is why, according to his argument, ANO is exempt from the duty to register as a VAT payer,” he added. But given that Koníček ultimately does not share Babiš’s view on the process, he has asked the tax office for an opinion. He remarked that he saw no other option than to turn to Babiš’s subordinates. “I am yet to receive a response,” Koníček said.
Despite repeated requests, a response from ANO has not been forthcoming, with the movement’s spokesperson, Lucie Kubovičová, failing to reply to questions put to her by E15 daily.
According to annual reports, ANO invoiced the chamber of deputies for CZK 651,000 in 2013, in excess of CZK 4m a year later and for another CZK 1.3m-plus last year. When suspicions blew up last year over how MPs for ANO divert their expert opinion entitlements to ANO’s own coffers, the movement terminated the invoicing practice. According to Roman Sklenák, head of the Social Democrat MPs’ caucus, such entitlements should be made use of only at the discretion of individual MPs.
“I have been a Member of Parliament since 2002 and I have not seen anything like this before. No other party does such a thing,” Koníček added.