The forgotten young generation: What did (not only) the consolidation package show?

Young people strongly feel that the government, despite promises, does not count on their future, and they are not afraid to express their disapproval strongly. FB photo of the University for Climate

On Thursday, May 11, the government presented the long-awaited consolidation package of public finances. Students and young people in particular watched his announcement with great concern — no wonder, given the state’s actions so far. In addition to another drastic reduction in the fare discount, measures such as the taxation of scholarships were also in play. Fortunately, the worst scenarios did not come true, but the state did not completely resist trying to plug holes in the budget with money from empty student pockets and canceled the student tax credit. But the consolidation package is just one of many manifestations of a sad trend that we have known about for some time. This country is not for the young.

If we only listened to various political statements about the importance of the future and the role of the young generation, we would have to get the impression that we live in a different Czech Republic. Minister of Finance Zbyněk Stanjura himself (ODS) stated the government’s consolidation package, saying that “our country simply cannot continue to live on the debt of future generations, as the opposition is trying to tell people”.

So it is easy to ask the question — what has been done for future generations since the last election and what does the consolidation package bring them? It was precisely students and young people who were hit hard by inflation and the dramatically rising prices of housing, energy and food in the last two years. They have practically nothing left for anything else.

Long-term underfunded higher education is unable to adequately support students. Accommodation stipends or allowances for meals in canteens had stagnated for many years before inflation started. Not to mention the unworthy scholarships for doctoral students or the salaries of university teachers, the poor condition and insufficient capacities of the dormitories. All this has a strong impact not only on the social situation of students, but also on the ever-deepening inequality in access to education.

Instead of supporting young people and higher education, the state reacted to the situation in its own way. In April last year, he reduced the fare discount for students and thus doubled the price of all trains and buses. With this noticeable intervention in student wallets and student mobility, he saved less than 2 billion per year.

At the same time, the state budget was deprived of billions by canceling the road tax for entrepreneurs or by not introducing excise tax on wine. According to the logic of the consolidation package, the millions that will be taken from students on the canceled tax credit are obviously more important to save public budgets than the billions from the sale of still wines. All this in a situation where, according to statistics, the level of public support for students in the Czech Republic belongs to the lowest in the European Union.

Real investments in the future and the interests of those who will have to bear the consequences of today’s political decisions come last. Students and young people thus have a legitimate feeling that they have been forgotten and that they are not treated fairly. The disappointment of young people is all the greater because it was largely thanks to their high voter turnout that the parties of the current coalition managed to win a majority in the Chamber of Deputies in the last elections and thus defeat Andrej Babiš. Hopefully, for the sake of all of us, the politicians will remember this fact before the next major election, when it will be too late.

Source: Deník referendum by

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