Saturday, May 28, 2011



Czech Republic: Myths about taxpayers supporting "lavish" Roma lifestyles

Most, Czech Republic

When might the "luxury" of a taxi ride paradoxically save someone money? Is everything you hear about Roma people true?

Some unemployed families in Most, Czech Republic, have been seen taking taxis to shop at Kaufland or Tesco. Critics of Roma people say the practice feeds rumors that the town hall is reimbursing Roma people for their taxi rides from the Chánov housing estate.

"I heard someone say that 14 days ago in the store. I think it's nonsense," taxi driver Jiří Urban told news server

"Everyone has long known that Roma people on welfare have enough money for taxis, but the town hall doesn't reimburse their taxi travel, that's nonsense," agreed two women from Most who preferred not to be named.

Alena Sedláčková, a spokesperson for the Most town hall, confirmed that the authority does not reimburse travel by taxi. Taxi drivers with whom news server Dení spoke pointed out that their Roma customers mostly either never ask for receipts or throw the ones they get away, so they evidently don't need them for reimbursement. When benefits are disbursed, taxi drivers estimate 60-90 % of their customers are Roma people, roughly half of whom use a taxi for grocery shopping once or twice a month.

One example of Roma thrift is the fact that they will usually take the bus or walk to the grocery store and then share a taxi among four people for the return journey. A taxi ride to the Chánov housing estate costs CZK 80, while four people taking the bus would pay a total of CZK 136.

After a large shopping trip, families usually have such heavy bags that they would not be able to carry them to the bus stop. "Some people use canes or are otherwise disabled. We shouldn't be surprised they want a taxi to take them to their door," one of the taxi drivers told

The Magyar family takes a taxi to do a big grocery shop once a month when they receive their aid to dependent children benefits. "We can't afford to travel more than that," Roman Magyar, the father of four children, told

Other myths about the Roma include the idea that they somehow have easier access to welfare benefits than "whites". The Czech Labor Office emphasizes that the rules for awarding benefits apply to everyone the same.

"We proceed according to the law. We provide no advantages to anyone," Eva Maříková, spokesperson for the agency, told



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