Wednesday, May 30, 2012

News 5.30.2012

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

News Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* The government's pension reform has come under fire from the European

* The government has approved a bill which would eliminate anonymous
bearer shares.

* Several hundred pensioners on Wednesday joined an anti-government
protest against a slower growth of old age pensions.

* Thursday is the last day on which people can order inflation-beating
state bonds from the Czech Finance Ministry.

* A proposed amendment to the road law may soon allow drivers to select
their own vehicle registration number.

EC criticizes pension reform, problems with EU funding

The government's pension reform has come under fire from the European
Commission. In a report published on Wednesday the EC says that the
reform is half-baked and more changes will have to be made in order to
secure its long-term sustainability. It criticizes the proposed early
retirement scheme as undermining the reform's credibility and the fact
that there is no clear correlation between the retirement age and life
expectancy. Brussels has also urged Prague to resolve persisting
problems with EU funding and redouble its efforts in fighting

Government moves to eliminate anonymous bearer shares

The government has approved a bill eliminating anonymous bearer shares.
Under the legislation, firms will have to register bearer shares in a
central depository kept by the stock exchange or deposit them with
banks. Both alternatives will enable law enforcement bodies, those
awarding public procurement or allocating subsidies to identify share
owners. The bill is part of a broader package of anti-corruption
measures approved by the centre-right government.

Pensioners protest against government reforms

Several hundred pensioners on Wednesday joined an anti-government
protest against a slower growth of old age and disability pensions in
the coming years. The demonstration on Prague's Palach Square was
organized by the council of senior citizens which argues that the
living standard of pensioners has consistently dropped in the past
decade putting many pensioners on the poverty line. The average monthly
pension in the Czech Republic is 10.000 crowns -the equivalent of 400
euros. Economists agree that pensioners will be the hardest hit group
by the government's austerity measures.

Finance ministry taking orders for state bonds until Thursday

Thursday is the last day on which people can order inflation-beating
state bonds from the Czech Finance Ministry. The ministry has so far
received orders for 14.2 billion crowns worth of bonds. It is planning
to release another issue in the autumn. The maturity of the bonds is
eight years with the option of premature repayment after one year of
ownership. The Finance Ministry started issuing state bonds last year
in view of covering part of the deficit in public finances.

Drivers may soon be able to pick their vehicle registration number

The government on Wednesday approved an amendment to the road law which
would allow drivers to select their own vehicle registration number for
the price of 5,000 crowns per plate. If approved by Parliament the
amendment could be in force by the fall of this year. The authorities
have said plates would be issued on a first come first served basis.

Environmental activists accuse Sumava park management of endangering
local species

Environment activists have accused the management of the Sumava
National Park of endangering local species by the use of harsh chemical
insecticides against bark-beetle infestation. The environment group
Hnuti Duha says water species and wood grouse are particularly at risk
from the spread of the poisonous substances. The Environment Inspection
Office says it is investigating the matter. The management of the
national park says it is fully entitled to use insecticides in the
given localities and in doing so adheres to all environmental safety

Czech president not to grant pardon to former bus driver charged with
damaging public property

Czech President Vaclav Klaus will not be granting a presidential pardon
to Roman Smetana, a former bus driver, who is charged with damaging
public property by scribbling over election posters. According to the
president's spokesman Mr Smetana is not in a situation that would
justify a presidential pardon. Roman Smetana, who was sentenced to 100
days in prison by a lower instance court and released last week pending
a Supreme Court review of his case, was charged anew on Monday with
evading his prison sentence. This could land him another 3 years in

Customs officials crack down on workshop producing counterfeit goods

Customs officials in western Bohemia have cracked down on a workshop
producing counterfeit goods with a neighboring warehouse containing 90
million crowns worth of fakes by well-known international brands such
as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Armani. Officers confiscated over
3,000 textile products and 8,000 purses and handbags. Three people have
been detained.

Fire at Unipetrol chemical works

A fire at the Unipetrol chemical-works in Zaluzi near Litvinov was
brought under control early on Wednesday with no injuries or loss of
life reported. The fire broke out in the wake of a hydrogen pipeline
explosion which, according to the results of a preliminary
investigation, was most likely caused by a faulty sealing device. The
fire closed the main road from Litvinov to Most for several hours.

Public Affairs has disappointed its voters

A quarter of all voters who took part in the 2010 general elections say
they made a bad decision and would vote differently next time round,
according to the results of an opinion survey published by the STEM
polling agency. This concerns mainly supporters of centre-right
parties, particularly Public Affairs, which was recently forced out of
the government by a corruption scandal. Nine out of 10 people who voted
for Public Affairs now say it was a mistake. On the other hand 90
percent of left-wing party voters say they made the right decision.


Thursday is expected to be a relatively warm day with temperatures
around 23 degrees Celsius, but the weather should worsen significantly
after that with several days of rain and day temperatures reaching a
maximum of 15 degrees. Morning frost is expected in places over the

Articles posted on today
Can Islamic banking help boost Czech exports?

A good deal of the ongoing economic and financial turmoil on world
markets has been blamed on the unscrupulous practices of the
international banking and financial sector. Islamic banking, on the
other hand, is seen as a fairer and more balanced alternative which has
been much less affected by the crisis. Can the Czech Republic benefit
from a financial system based on the Islamic law? And can Islamic
banking help boost Czech exports into Muslim countries? These are some
of the issues debated at an international conference on Islamic banking
held in Prague.
Head of government energy commission: Share of nuclear power in Czech
Republic's energy mix should grow to about 50 percent

Vaclav Paces, the head of a government-appointed energy commission, has
presented his suggestions for the future energy policy of the Czech
Republic. Among them is an increase in the share of nuclear power in
the country's energy mix of to up to 50 percent over the next few
decades. We spoke to Chris Johnstone, who has been covering the Czech
energy market extensively for many years, about the significance of Mr
Paces's proposals, the future of nuclear power and some of the
challenges that lie ahead.
Government approves bill banning bearer shares

The government of Petr Necas approved a bill that will regulate bearer
shares and allow authorities to identify their owners. If passed by
Parliament, the anti-corruption measure, which was announced by Deputy
Prime Minister Karolina Peake on Wednesday, will force companies to
register bearer shares in a central depository kept by the stock
exchange, or deposit them with banks.

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