Tuesday, August 14, 2012

News 8.14.2012

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

News Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* Social Watch has criticized the Czech government's fiscal reforms and
unremitting corruption.

* The prime minister has defended the government's proposed tax hikes
in the Senate.

* The Czech economy remains in recession, after contracting for three
consecutive quarters.

* The National Security Council has approved a long-term financial aid
plan for Afghanistan.

* The Prague City Council has announced it is going ahead with major
changes to the city transport network despite opposition from experts.

Social Watch slams Czech government policy

In its 2012 report on the Czech Republic Social Watch, an international
network of citizens' organizations, has criticized the government's
austerity measures and what it calls unremitting corruption. The report
says the centre-right government is sticking to the implementation of a
neo-liberal policy which undermines social well-being and undercuts
economic growth. It says the country faces threats such as the
impoverishment of middle-class and low-income groups, increasing
unemployment and gender inequality. The report claims that less
attention is being paid to pressing environmental problems and
improving conditions for immigrants.

PM defends tax hikes

Prime Minister Petr Necas on Tuesday defended the government's proposed
tax hikes in the Senate. Addressing a meeting of Civic Democrat
senators, some of whom strongly oppose the government's consolidation
strategy, the prime minister said the proposed hike in the lower and
basic VAT rates to 15 and 21 percent as of 2013 was vital for the
government to be able to bring the deficit in public finances under 3
percent of GDP. Mr. Necas also rejected criticism from President Klaus
who said the tax hike was an ill-conceived measure that would undermine
the economy. The prime minister countered that it was easy for Mr.
Klaus to say when he did not bear responsibility for the state budget.
Several Civic Democrat senators said later the prime minister's
arguments had failed to convince them to support the government's
austerity package.

Czech economy in recession

The Czech economy remains in recession, after contracting for three
consecutive quarters. The GDP fell by 0.2 percent in the second
quarter, according to data released by the Czech Statistical Office on
Tuesday. Economic performance is 1.2 percent lower in annual terms.
According to analysts the recession has deepened year on year mainly
due to a slowdown in industrial production, which was the main driver
of growth previously. The government's austerity measures have reduced
domestic demand and the euro debt crisis has weakened exports.

Finance minister defends government's fiscal strategy

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek on Tuesday defended the government's
fiscal strategy saying that to artificially boost the GDP would in the
long run be three times more expensive and a great deal more harmful
than the effects of the government's consolidation plan. The finance
minister said it would be misleading to judge the state of the economy
on the grounds of one macro-economic indicator -GDP growth. Despite
defending its austerity package the government has responded to the
worsening state of the economy with a promise to reduce the deficit in
public finances at a slower pace than gradually planned.

National security council approves aid to Afghanistan

The National Security Council has approved a long-term financial aid
plan for Afghanistan. At its meeting in Prague on Tuesday the council
approved a total of 140 million crowns to be spent on development
projects and training of security forces between 2014 and 2017. The
plan ensues from an agreement reached at the NATO summit in Chicago in
May of this year where the US emphasized the need to compensate the
gradual withdrawal of forces by additional funds vitally needed to
maintain law and order and assist development. The security council
meeting was attended by President Vaclav Klaus in the role of supreme
commander of the Czech Armed Forces.

PM slams police president for ill-considered remarks

Prime Minister Petr Necas has slammed police president Petr Lessy for
attacking his superior in an interview for the daily Pravo. The prime
minister said that the accusations made were not only ill-considered
but totally unacceptable if the police president did not produce
evidence to back them up. In an interview for Friday's edition of Pravo
Mr. Lessy said the interior minister had resorted to blackmail in an
effort to get him to resign. Interior Minister Jan Kubice is reportedly
considering filing charges of slander against him. Although Petr Lessy
said later his words had been distorted the paper promptly produced a
tape to prove that this was not the case. Relations between Mr. Lessy
and the prime minister have been strained after the police president
accused politicians of putting pressure on detectives investigating
sensitive cases involving corruption in high places.

Prague City Council says overhaul of city transport network going ahead
as planned

The Prague City Council has announced it is going ahead with major
changes to the city transport network despite warnings from experts who
say they have been ill-prepared and poorly communicated. The overhaul
of the system, which aims to save 400 million crowns annually, includes
scrapping certain bus and tram lines, re-routing others and introducing
mini-buses mainly in the suburbs. The Prague-based NGO Auto-Mat has
accused the authorities of squandering money and making passengers foot
the bill. The changes are due to come into effect in September.

Number of same-sex partnerships on the rise

A total of 1390 homosexual couples have entered into registered
partnerships in the 10.5 million Czech Republic since the respective
law came into force in July 2006. 130 couples have since terminated the
arrangement. The Czech Republic was first in the post-communist bloc to
legalise same-sex partnerships which has led a few dozen foreign
couples to tie the knot in this country. The same-sex partnership
offers similar rights to marriage but does not allow the couple to
adopt children.

Police up in arms over dress code

Police in Teplice are up in arms over a new regulation concerning
officers working in plain clothes. The regional police chief has
introduced a dress code for plain-clothes officers, ordering them to
wear long trousers, closed shoes and shirts with collars. He said
officers had been dressing informally and looked more like basketball
players or tourists which tarnished the forces reputation when they
were unexpectedly called to deal with a case and produced police
credentials. Officers say the new dress code will make them a
laughingstock and make it impossible for them to deal with informers of
infiltrate the criminal underworld.

Tennis: Kvitova wins at Montreal

Czech tennis player Petra Kvitova has won her first title of the season
when she beat China's Li Na 7:5, 2:6, 6:3 at the final of the Rogers
Cup tournament in Montreal, Canada, on Monday. The Czech was losing 1:3
in the first set but saved a break point and eventually took the set.
She lost the second set but in the third, she improved and won a key
break point in the sixth game. Kvitova, who was knocked out of the
Olympic tournament's quarterfinals, moved up one position to 5th place
in the WTA rankings.


It should be clear to partly cloudy with daytime highs reaching 25
degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Czech economy contracts for third consecutive quarter

The Czech economy remains in recession. According to preliminary
figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Tuesday, the gross
domestic product fell by 0.2 percent in the second quarter of this
year, and the economy contracted by 1.2 percent compared to the same
period last year. Exports are still the main driving force but slowing
industrial output and depressed domestic demand continue to undermine
economic growth. Radio Prague discussed the latest figures with
economist David Marek from the consultancy Patria Finance.


One of the Czech Republic's most successful Olympic teams back home

For the Czech Republic, the London Olympics proved to be the most
successful summer games since Atlanta 16 years ago. With four gold,
three silver and three bronze medals, the country ranked 19th in the
international medal count. Some of the athletes made the trip back home
as soon as their events were over but on Monday two special flights
brought the rest of the team -including a number of medalists - back
home. JP went to meet them at Prague's Kbely airport.


The Four Corners of the Czech Republic, Pt. IV: Podluzi

The border point of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria is the
confluence of two great rivers, the Dyje, from the west, and the
Morava, from which the region of Moravia takes its name. Along the
rivers is a natural reserve of marsh forest and a bastion of Moravian
culture called Podluzi, or "under the marshland".


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