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Czech Finance Minister retains party leadership, vows to cut taxes

Reuters

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis got re-elected on Saturday as chairman of the ANO party which he founded and vowed to cut taxes after the autumn general elections that his party is projected to win.

Babis's tax plan clashes with that of Prime Minister and Social Democratic Chairman Bohuslav Sobotka, who said earlier this week that his party aimed to raise taxes for top earners and bigger companies.

"We want to collect taxes, we want everybody to pay them and we don't want to raise them," Babis told his party congress, adding that taxes should go down for those making up to four times the average salary, or up to 113,000 crowns ($4,418) a month.

He did not give any further details on his tax plan, leaving it to the party congress on its program, scheduled for the spring.

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"Let's make the Czech Republic excellent again," he said, before he received 93-percent support from the delegates.

The two parties have ruled in a coalition government since January 2014, together with the Christian Democrats. Babis's party has led in all opinion polls for nearly the entire term of the current government.

Last year the country's budget produced a surprising surplus, in part because some investment projects were delayed.

The Czech Republic, a European Union member country but not a member of the euro zone, has a history of strong fiscal management.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Greg Mahlich)