* Lower house surprises with cut in petrol tax
* Finance Minister angery about budget impact
* Ruling coalition forces revocation of vote
* New vote seen on Friday
(Adds quote, lower house revoking vote, analyst, petrol prices)
By Jan Lopatka
PRAGUE, July 23 The Czech Republic's coalition
appeared to be in disarray on Wednesday after parliament
approved a surprise cut in petrol tax and then overturned that
decision an hour later after the finance minister objected to
losing the revenue.
Lawmakers approved cutting petrol and diesel taxes by an
estimated 14 billion crowns ($690 million) a year from 2015, as
a rider to a bill meant only to give a tax break to farmers.
The vote, supported by some members of the ruling
centre-left coalition, provoked an angry outburst from Finance
Minister Andrej Babis, who said it was a windfall to petrol
distribution firms and not translate to lower prices at the
"The 14 billion ... will go to distribution firms," Babis
told the lower house of parliament. "And if you do not
understand that, come for a training session."
He said the cut - by 2.50 crowns per litre on diesel and
1.50 crowns per litre on petrol - would also put Czech petrol
taxes below minimum rates allowed in the European Union.
Deputies then agreed to revoke the decision.
The bill will not be presented to parliament again before
Friday as deputies have called a recess.
"Politically I see this as an extremely dangerous way to
push through the change... Unless it is not a violation of the
coalition agereement when some of the coalition's deputies vote
for laws fundamentally influencing budget revenues without
consultation with the finance minister," UniCredit Bank chief
economist, Pavel Sobisek, said.
"Then it is needed to change the coalition agreement
quickly, or dissolve the coalition government," he said.
Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka criticised
the rider's author, deputy Milan Urban - from his own party, and
said a number of deputies were "completely disorientated" in the
vote, news agency CTK quoted him as saying.
The centre-left cabinet is aiming to keep the state budget
deficit at 100 billion crowns in 2015, similar to this year.
The overall fiscal gap is seen below 3 percent of gross
domestic product both this year and next but Sobisek said the
tax cut could push the deficit over that level next year.
It would also add to already strong anti-inflationary
pressures in the economy. The central bank has kept interest
rates near zero and weakened the crown to avoid deflation.
The fuel tax cut was planned around the assumption that it
would spur sales at Czech pumps, outweighing the impact of the
cut, from drivers in transit from west to eastern Europe,
according to the text of the rider.
Babis rejected those assumptions.
Diesel in the Czech Republic cost the equivalent of 1.32
euros a litre last week, compared with 1.37 in Germany, 1.29 in
Austria and 1.36 in Slovakia, Czech automobile club UAMK said.
($1 = 20.3640 Czech crowns)
(Editing by Jason Hovet and Louise Ireland)