Wednesday, July 25, 2012

News 7.25.2012

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

News Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* The new vehicle registration system crashed again on Wednesday

* The company behind the country's malfunctioning vehicle registration
system wins a fresh government contract worth 56 million crowns

* Former prime minister Milos Zeman is gaining ground in the race for
the Czech presidency.

* Interior Minister Jan Kubice plans to save half a billion crowns on
policemen's wages next year.

* The government has approved a proposal introducing new rules for
appointments to state companies.

Vehicle registration system crashes yet again

The new vehicle registration system crashed yet again on Wednesday
morning. The nationwide collapse made it impossible to connect to
police and international vehicle databases, prolonging a crisis that
has caused major problems for drivers since the system was launched on
July 9. The new problem comes just a day after the Police Presidium
announced that it had solved the problem by reinforcing its
infrastructure and servers. Prime Minister Necas has given the
Transport Minister, Petr Dobes, until Friday to resolve the problem or
else resign. Latest reports suggest the system could take years to
fully fix, while the company behind the work, ATS Telcom must still be
paid a promised 37 million crowns for the faulty system.

Company behind faulty vehicle registration system wins fresh government

Meanwhile, ATS Telcom has won a tender for the Czech Ministry of
Defence to provide the government with anti cyber-attack technology.
The contract is reportedly worth 56 million crowns. It was the lowest
of three bids in the public tender process. Both hardware and software
will be provided for the country's CIRC system (Computer Incident
Response Center) with installation set to begin next year.

Zeman gaining ground in presidential polls

Former prime minister Milos Zeman is gaining ground in the race for the
Czech presidency. A new survey conducted by the agency Factum Invenio
puts the long-time Social Democrat leader ahead of economist Jan
Svejnar and just behind former interim prime minister Jan Fischer.
According to the poll, Zeman and Fischer would go the second round of
voting with Fischer winning by a four-point margin if direct elections
were held today. The three frontrunners would be followed at a
considerable distance by Social Democrat Jiri Dienstbier, businessman
Tomio Okamura and TOP 09 chairman and Foreign Minister Karla
Schwarzenberg. The successor to President Vaclav Klaus will be chosen
for the first time by direct election on January 6 and February 5, 2013.

Kubice plans to cut half a billion from police salaries

Interior Minister Jan Kubice plans to save half a billion crowns on
policemen's wages next year. The plan will reportedly be made next
month in a proposal to the government on changes to organisation and
the number of police officers. According to a comparative analysis that
the ministry released on Wednesday, the Czech Republic leads Eastern
European countries in numbers of officers and there are more officers
handling the same workload compared with neighbouring countries. Mr
Kubice indicated that the reorganisation of the force would primarily
involve higher managerial positions with higher salaries.

Government approves new rules for appointments to state companies

The government has approved a proposal introducing new rules for
appointments to state companies. The aim of the legislation, put
forward by Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, is to increase the
transparency of appointments to state and city businesses, where
politicians often sit on supervisory boards and boards of directors.
According to deputy prime minister Karolina Peake, the addition to the
state's anti-corruption strategy will mean that party affiliation will
no longer be the main criterion for such appointments. Instead, the
bill requires nominees to have greater expertise and sets rules for
publishing their assessments. The opposition Social Democrats also
support the bill, which they expect to clearly cover remuneration for
such appointees as well.

PM praises plan to hold competitions for state attorneys' posts

The prime minister has praised the new justice minister's plan to hold
competitions for state attorneys' posts. Regarding Justice Minister
Blazek's reluctance to appoint popular prosecutor Lenka Bradacova to
the post of Prague High State Attorney, Prime Minister Necas said
Wednesday that the competition will be good for the Czech judiciary.
There has been abundant speculation in the last month that the former
justice minister was fired because he planned to appoint Bradacova, who
is considered a strong anti-corruption prosecutor. The prime minister
also praised Blazek for withstanding media pressure to follow through
with the appointment.

Necas says Sweden being unhelpful in Gripen negotiations

Prime Minister Petr Necas says Sweden is being "surprisingly
unaccommodating" in negotiations regarding the renewal of a Defence
Ministry contract for the rental of 14 Gripen fighter jets. The Czech
Republic currently has the Jas-39 fighters on a 10-year lease for 19.6
billion crowns. Sweden is now insisting on two billion crowns a year,
which Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra has rejected. The Czech Republic
will be in exclusive negotiations with Sweden until November at which
time it may hold an open tender for other providers.

Government agrees increase in reserves of oil products

The government has agreed to increase Czech reserves of oil products
from 90 to 100 days over the next two years in line with new EU
directives. The decision will cost the state 4.4 to 4.7 billion crowns,
according to the proposal. The increase is reportedly necessary due to
changes in the method of calculating reserves, which puts current oil
product reserves at less than the legally required 90 days.

Confidence in Czech economy slides again in July

Overall confidence in the Czech economy fell again in July, according
to the Czech Statistical Office. The statisticians also reported a
decrease in the composite confidence indicator of 1.6 points compared
to June while the consumer confidence indicator was up. Among
entrepreneurs, confidence increased in trade and in construction. In
selected services and in industry it declined. In industry in July, the
assessment of the current overall economic situation went down while
that of current total demand remained unchanged and foreign demand also
decreased. The most important obstacle for production remains
insufficient demand, as stated by more than half of respondents.

Average age of passenger cars up to 14 years

A total of 4.64 million passenger cars were in the register of road
vehicles in the Czech Republic in the first half of this year and the
average age of the car fleet increased to almost fourteen years, the
Automotive Industry Association announced this week. Since 2000, 1.2
million passenger cars have been added to the register. The share of
vehicles older than ten years continues to grow and at the end of
reached 60.6% in the first half of 2012. The share of vehicles aged
over fifteen years is higher than 32%, while only 7.1%��of cars are
younger than two years, according to SAP data.


Warm and cloudy conditions are expected to continue for the rest of the
week across most of the country, with scattered showers and storms and
highs of 27 to 30o Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Transport minister faces ultimatum over registration system

Continuing problems with the country's new vehicle registration system,
which crashed for the umpteenth time on Wednesday, could see Transport
Minister Pavel Dobes resign by the end of the week. The prime minister
warned Mr Dobes that unless the faulty system was running without
complications by Friday, he expected the minister to go.
Petr Koukal: a symbol of survival at the London Olympics

Czech badminton player Petr Koukal will carry his country's flag at
Friday's Olympic Games opening ceremony in London, just a year after
winning his battle against testicular cancer. The Czech Badminton
Federation described the choice as "a big step for Czech badminton and
a huge leap for Peter Koukal". Shortly before departing for London with
the team of Czech athletes Koukal shared his feelings with journalists.

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