Rakušan: If 30 percent of Ukrainians work, aid will start to pay off

Petr Horník

If roughly one-third of the refugees from Ukraine work in the Czech Republic, the state aid will cease to be profitable thanks to the levies, said Vít Rakušan (STAN), the head of the Ministry of the Interior, in the lower house.

“The moment 30 % of people work and pay money into the public health system, it stops being profitable, and the health system can make a profit,” the Interior Ministry chief said in the lower house.

“So, on the contrary, in 2025, with proper adaptation, it can be a positive phenomenon for state budget revenues and GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the Czech Republic,” he added.

The head of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL), said that 45,000 women from Ukraine already work in the Czech Republic. “We are taking further steps to make this number grow. For example, we are fully launching language education,” he said.

Some 340 000 refugees have come to the Czech Republic from Ukraine, but some have probably already returned to their homeland.

Up to 25 percent of migrants want to stay

At the moment, the Austrian said, it is impossible to communicate clearly how many refugees will remain in the Czech Republic after the conflict in Ukraine ends. According to the Austrian, between 20 and 25 % of the incoming refugees have expressed an interest in staying. If the Russian invasion of Ukraine lasted more than a year, the figure could rise to 40%.

“But we are not giving them long-term asylum now, and we are giving them temporary protection. If it were to end, they would have to go through the classic process of applying for a residence permit,” the minister explained at the lower house plenary.

Upon arrival in the Czech Republic, refugees then receive a humanitarian benefit. Jurečka told the lower house that he envisages extending the payment until the end of February 2023. However, the amount could be gradually reduced.

Education Minister Petr Gazdík (STAN) stressed in the lower house that the Czech Republic is not helping Ukrainian refugees and their children at the expense of Czech children and their parents.

On Friday, MPs discuss the government’s strategy for dealing with the refugee crisis. They were supposed to discuss it on Tuesday, but after an hour-long speech by SPD leader Tomio Okamura, in which he lashed out at government members, the ministers left the chamber, ending the session.