June 29, 2017 / 9:26 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Czech party leading election polls pledges stable tax environment

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PRAGUE, June 29 (Reuters) - The leading Czech political party going into an October parliamentary election wants to keep the tax environment stable and not raise tax rates, its leader, billionaire former finance minister Andrej Babis, said on Thursday.

Babis’s ANO party, which holds a double-digit lead in polls, unveiled its tax plans for the autumn campaign on Thursday and said it would not propose any corporate tax changes and was opposed to new taxes on banks.

The party is part of a three-member coalition led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s Social Democrats, who have laid out their own plans to make up ground in polls by offering tax cuts for workers and introducing taxes on banks’ assets.

“What we are pushing is a stable and predictable tax environment,” Babis said.

Social Democrats have previously sought sector taxes on banks but ran into opposition from ANO. Babis said the party would not agree with such a step as it would end up impacting people and companies.

“If some sector tax on banks was implemented, then these banks would pass it on to customers, citizens, firms and it would have no effect,” he said.

Bank shares in Prague were steady on Thursday, with Komercni Banka, the country’s third biggest lender, and Moneta Money Bank up a touch.

Sobotka dismissed Babis from the government in May although their dispute over allegations of tax dodging - which the businessman denies - has done little to hurt ANO’s popularity.

Babis, the country’s second richest businessman who is against joining the euro currency club, founded the party in 2011. It soared to second place in the last election on pledges to fight corruption and run the state in business-like fashion.

Although the government has presided over a growing economy that helped it deliver the first balanced budget in two decades, the Social Democrats have slipped in the polls behind ANO.

ANO’s lead of 12-20 percentage points depending on the poll gives Babis a strong chance of leading the next ruling coalition, although some parties have ruled out joining an ANO-led government. (Reporting by Robert Muller,; Writing by Jason Hovet,; Editing by Toby Chopra and Ed Osmond)

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