Wednesday, April 11, 2012

News 4.11.2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

By: Jan Richter

* The government has approved new austerity measures to keep the budget
deficit below 3 percent of GDP.

* The government has also passed draft legislation introducing tighter
rules for parliamentary votes of no-confidence.

* The police have arrested five people in connection with the ProMoPro
case in which 135 million crowns was allegedly embezzled during the
country's 2009 EU presidency.

* The Czech ombudsman has asked MPs to change several laws relating to
the unemployed, foreigners, public employees and other groups.

* Former prime minister Jan Fischer and economist Jan Svejnar top the
ladder of potential presidential candidates, a new poll suggests.

Government approves austerity measures for 2013, 2014

The Czech government on Wednesday approved new austerity measures that
should keep the deficit of the state budget below 3 percent of the
country's GDP. As of next year, the VAT rates will increase by one
percent to 21 and 15 percent, respectively while income tax will rise
from 15 to 20 percent. For three years, those with monthly salaries
over 100,000 crowns will pay a 7-percent "solidarity tax". The
government has also removed a ceiling for health insurance payments
while pensions will grow in a slower pace.

In 2013, the government aims at a deficit of 2.9 percent of GDP while
in the following year, the deficit should drop to 1.9 percent of the
gross domestic product. The new austerity measures were approved by
coalition leaders on Wednesday in a deal to ensure the continuation of
the government.

Government passes constructive vote of no confidence

The government on Wednesday also passed draft legislation introducing a
so-called constructive vote of no-confidence. If approved by
Parliament, the bill will impose stricter rules for ousting the cabinet
in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in that the opposition would
have to announce the name of the next prime minister, and would have to
gain the signatures of at least 50 deputies in support of the motion.
In case the vote fails, a new attempt could only be staged in eight
months' time, or with the support of at least 80 MPs.

The bill has been criticized by the opposition; Social Democrat leader
Bohuslav Sobotka dismissed the legislation as pointless and tailored to
the needs of the current government.

Winemakers slam planned wine tax

The Czech Winemakers' Union on Wednesday criticized planned wine tax.
The government approved the new tax of 10 crowns per one litre of still
wine as part of a new set of austerity measures; Finance Minister
Miroslav Kalousek said it should fetch some 1.3 billion crowns into the
state budget while small wine producers should be exempt from the new
tax. However, winemakers say it will only help imported wines, and put
more pressure on their industry; they have started a petition in
support of keeping wine tax-free.

Press: police arrest five in ProMoPro case

The police have arrested five people in an ongoing investigation of the
ProMoPro case in which at least 135 million was embezzled during the
country's EU president in 2009, the news website E15 reported on
Wednesday citing confidential sources. Among those arrested is Jaroslav
Vesely, the owner of the ProMoPro which provided audiovisual and
interpreting services to the Czech government, as well as several of
the firm's subcontractors; they face charges of embezzlement and money
laundering along with four other people who have not been taken into

The case might have political implications as the ProMoPro deal was
overseen by then EU affairs minister, and the current Defence Minister
Alexandr Vondra, of the Civic Democrats, who in the passed faced
pressure to resign over the scandal.

Ombudsman calls for changes to legislation related to unemployed,

Czech ombudsman Pavel Varvarovsky on Wednesday recommended lawmakers to
implement changes in several laws relating to the unemployed,
foreigners as well as public employees. Mr Varvarovsky said that MPs
should remove a measure requiring some unemployed to regularly report
to post offices. The measure, which was introduced earlier this year in
an attempt to crack down on illegal employment, contradicts human
dignity, according to the ombudsman. Mr Varvarovsky also criticized
what he called fast-track extraditions of foreigners at Prague's Ruzyne
Airport, as well as the lack of legislation governing public employees'
labour contracts.

NGO, Pirate Party against planned personal data retention

The Czech Pirate Party and the NGO Iuridicum Remedium on Wednesday
voiced objections against a bill requiring phone operators and internet
providers to store personal data from electronic and mobile
communication. The Czech Interior Ministry, which drafted the bill,
hopes it would help fight organized crime.However, the activists said
it would instead introduce a principle of guilty until proven innocent
into Czech law. The country's Constitutional Court last year struck
down a similar measure arguing that personal data retention was

One third of Czechs don't want gays, foreigners and people of different
skin colour as neighbours

Around one third of Czechs do not want gays, foreigners and people of
different skin colour as neighbours, suggests a new poll by the STEM
agency released on Wednesday. The results also show that some 86
percent of Czechs would not like to live next door to drug addicts
while 78 percent of those polled would not want alcoholics as their
neighbours. Also, around 12 percent of Czechs do not want to live next
to rich people.

Poll: Former PM Fischer, economist Svejnar favourites in presidential

Former prime minister Jan Fischer and economist Jan Svejnar remain
favourites in direct presidential elections, according to a new poll by
the Factum Invenio agency released on Wednesday. If the elections were
held in late March or early April, Jan Fischer would receive 23.3
percent of the vote, while Jan Svejnar would get 17.2 percent. Another
former prime minister Milos Zeman would come in third with 10 percent,
while Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg would finish fourth with 8.3
percent of the vote. Direct presidential election will be for the first
time held next year to elect the successor of Vaclav Klaus.

Students, writers pay homage to late Josef Skvorecky

Around 30 writers, publishers and students paid homage to the late
writer Josef Skvorecky at the Josef Skvorecky Secondary School in
Prague on Wednesday. The school hosts a non-stop reading of books
published in Mr Skovercky's exile publishing house, 68 Publishers.
Josef Skvorecky left Czechoslovakia in 1969 and settled in Toronto
where he published books by Czech authors banned by the communist
regime. He died in January at the age of 87.

Tennis: Czech Fed Cup team nomination announced for semifinals against

Czech Fed Cup team captain Petr Pala on Wednesday announced the
nominations for the semifinals of the women's team event in which the
Czech Republic will play Italy. Pert Pala selected Petra Kvitova and
Lucie Safarova for the singles while Lucie Hradecka and Andrea
Hlavackova will play the doubles. The semifinals are scheduled for
April 21 and 22 in Ostrava.

Hockey: Kometa beat Pardubice to tie finals series

Kometa Brno beat Pardubice 6:5 in the second game of the hockey league
finals on Tuesday night and tied the best-of-seven series. Kometa was
ahead 2:0 after the first period and was leading the hosts 6:2 in the
third. But Pardubice scored three times in less than two minutes and
were close to equalizing. However, Kometa held out and tied the final
series which now moves to Brno.


The coming days will be mostly overcast with rain showers. Daytime
highs should range between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Government reaffirms commitment to extensive fiscal reforms

The centre-right Czech government weathered the latest in a series of
crises on Tuesday, putting aside its differences in the interest of
what the prime minister called its sole raison d'etre - putting the
country's finances in order. The three parties reaffirmed their
commitment to implementing budget savings and tax hikes which should
bring the budget deficit below 3 percent of GDP next year and down to
1.9 percent in 2014.
Exhibitions & street art a part of Czech cultural season in London

Czech Open 2012 is a cultural season in London that began last month
and will last through to August, also during with the summer Olympic
Games. Organised by the Czech Centre in London, the season offers a
variety of programmes in the borough of Islington, including an
exhibition called Coal and Steel and Disorient Express which is set to
open, and a street art project being worked on now by two Czech and
British artists.
Prague's farmers markets: A success story

In this edition of Marketplace, we go to an actual outdoor market. We
braved the cold Easter weather this past Saturday and visited one of
the city's popular farmers markets, on Prague's Jiriho z Podebrad

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