Should They Pay?

There is a funny argument taking place, considering the Prague public transport and the Czech legislators.

There is a successful, relatively cheap and convenient private transport company called Student Agency. This company is interesting not only because in its ads the name is pronounced by the rules of Czech phonetics instead of English ones. It managed to bring havoc into the field of inter- city transportation by setting up a competitive environment.

Czech legislators are guaranteed free transport by the state. As the law was passed at the time when all transport companies were state- owned, it doesn’t say what should a private transport company do if a legislator decides to use its services for free.

That is why Student Agency’s director, Radim Jancura, decided to bring the question to court and the court decided just the way he wanted: a private enterprise does not have to serve our MPs for free.

Now there’s a problem: there are those who say that Prague DPP (the Prague transport company) is a private enterprise so the MPs, when they do use the system, should pay for a ticket like anyone else. And if they don’t, they should pay the fine, like anyone else. It seems perfectly sensible. But the Czech MPs obviously consider paying couple hundred crowns a month too large an investment, or they feel it would be degrading for a member of Parliament to have his transport ticket checked. They just don’t like the prospect.

At one moment it seemed they would be pressed hard by the city magistrates, but at this moment the action seems to be losing momentum. After suggesting that the DPP should fine MPs if they use the system without paying for a ticket, the Prague magistrates seem to be backing down, leaving the author of the proposal Markéta Reedová alone in the field.

The whole theme of MPs’ advantages has become a joke in the Czech Republic. Not only are the salaries and, mainly, various compensations and special payments still rising. The funny thing is that the vast majority of MPs, when asked separately, support the idea they should be paid less and, mainly, to be less subsidized. But when they arrive in parliament the motions never get passed. How could that happen? Most of them say that they did vote for the motion. Or they wanted to but couldn’t because there was a clumsy formulation in paragraph 5 line 86, but they are very much for the idea and always were and always will be and are eager to support the next motion that comes. Miraculously that one gets scrapped as well. And this goes on and on and on, year after year, motion after motion.

The money is not the point, the numbers are negligible. I wouldn’t even say it’s a matter of some great principle. It’s just pathetic, that’s all.

© 2008 |