Wednesday, October 24, 2012

News 10.24.2012

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

News Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

By: Masha Volynsky

* The lower house has returned the bill on the 2013 state budget to the
government for redrafting.

* Talks with the six Civic Democrat rebels who are holding out against
the government proposed tax-hikes have failed to produce any tangible

* The Senate has approved a billl on the auctioning of carbon emission

* President Vaclav Klaus has been featured in a Chinese advertisement
for electic bicycles.

* Petra Kvitova has dropped out of the WTA, but may still play in the
Fed Cup final in Prague next week.

2013 state budget returned to cabinet for redrafting

The lower house of Czech Parliament returned the 2013 state budget bill
to the government for reworking on Wednesday after the cabinet was
unable to win support for a package of proposed tax hikes, forcing it
to abandon the original draft proposal. Finance Minister Miroslav
Kalousek said he would resubmit the bill within a month based on lower
revenues of approximately 22 billion crowns with respective cuts in
expenditures in the public sector. The finance minister has vowed to
maintain the deficit in public spending under 3 percent of the GDP in
2013 at any cost. According to some sources the finance ministry plans
to make fresh cuts in infrastructure and research spending. Analyst
have warned against cutting expenditures to stimulate growth.

Civic Democrat rebels holding out against tax-hikes

Meanwhile talks with the six Civic Democrat rebels who are holding out
against the government proposed tax-hikes have failed to produce any
tangible progress. The prime minister's compromise proposal to raise
only the lower VAT rate by one percentage point, from 14 to 15 percent,
while the higher VAT rate of 20% would stay the same, has been rejected
by the rebels, as has the concession that a so called "solidarity tax
"- an additional 7% tax for individuals earning more than 100 thousand
crowns a month would only be in effect next year. The rebel MPs want
both of the tax hikes to be taken out of the bill completely. A vote on
the controversial tax package has been postponed until next Wednesday
giving the two sides more time and space to reach agreement. Any deal
reached with the rebels will have to be approved by the Civic
Democratic Party's coalition partners TOP 09 and LIDEM.

Senate approves emission permits auction

The Czech senate has passed a bill that would allow the auctioning of
carbon emission permits on Wednesday. In the next seven years the Czech
Republic is expected to have 645 million permits available. A total of
342 million permits will be put up for auction, and may bring hundreds
of billion crowns to the state coffers. Three hundred and thee million
permits are expected to be given out to Czech manufacturers for free.
The Environment Ministry is hoping to use part of the auction profits
to support the Green Investment funding scheme.

Czech and Kazakh firms sign multiple business deals

As part of the official state visit of the Kazakh president Nursultan
Nazarbayev to the Czech Republic, a number of Czech and Kazakh
companies signed trade partnership and investment contracts worth 155
million Euros or about 3.8 billion crowns. Most of the companies are
part of the pharmaceutical, healthcare, agriculture or food industries.
The largest contract that was signed, worth 45 million Euros (or 1.1
billion crowns), was concerning the import of rape seed oil from
Kazakhstan by the Czech company Impex. In the first eight months of
this year saw exports to Kazakhstan grow by 40% to 215 million dollars,
while imports from the Central Asian country are worth 649 million
dollars a year.

"Czech Forrest Gump" completes 30-day run around Iceland

On Tuesday, Rene Kujan, a Czech runner who doctors said might never
walk again after a car crash, finished a 30-day run around Iceland
aimed at inspiring people with disabilities. News of his quest spread
fast and in the last stage of his run Kujan was accompanied by around
50 local runners who turned out to support his cause. The Czech runner
said the idea of helping the disabled was born at a rehabilitation
centre where he got to know many brave people whose fate was worse than
his. Rene Kujan, whom the local papers nicknamed "the Czech Forrest
Gump" covered 1,340 kilometers, running on average 5 hours a day.

Czech confidence in the economy up in October

The Czech Statistical Office has announced that overall confidence in
the Czech economy is up by 0.5 percent in October, from what it was a
month before. Among entrepreneurs, confidence in the industry and
construction sectors are up, with consumer confidence also growing in
the past month. Nevertheless, the statisticians warn that year-on-year
confidence in the Czech economy has gone down.

Senate approves changes to high-school leaving exams

The senate has approved an amendment on Wednesday that introduces
changes to the format of the state secondary school leaving exams. The
amendment, proposed by the Education Ministry, stipulates that there
will be two instead of three required subject test - Czech language
plus a foreign language or mathematics. Student will also have only two
optional additional subject tests. In order for the changes to come
into effect already in this school year, the president will have to
sign the bill into force before November 15. These changes, according
to Education Minister Petr Fiala, are only temporary until a more
comprehensive overhaul of the new unified secondary school leaving
exams, which have met with a lot of criticism, can be introduced.

President Klaus appears on electric bike ads in China

Chinese consumers have recently been enticed to purchase electric
bicycles by the Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who appeared on
billboards in the Chinese city of Ningbo. The ad, spotted by a Czech
reader of the news website, shows the Czech president happily
riding an electric bicycle. The picture was apparently taken two years
ago when President Klaus was given an electric bike by the Czech branch
of the Chinese producer and decided to try it out. The Czech president
had sent a signed photograph of the test run to the Chinese company,
which it used for its latest ad campaign. The office of the president
said on Tuesday that he knew nothing about the billboards and was not
asked for consent to use his picture.

Casa scandal film awarded Respekt prize in Jihlava

An investigative report 'The Casa Affair' was awarded the Respekt prize
for the best television or on-line report on Tuesday at the sixteenth
annual International Documentary Film Festival in Jihlava. Aneta
Snopova and Marketa Dobiasova prepared the report about the corruption
scandal surrounding the purchase of Casa military planes by the Czech
defense ministry for the Czech Television program Reporters. The
documentary film festival ends on Sunday, October 28th.

Kvitova leaves Istanbul with a virus; Fed Cup final uncertain

Shortly after the Czech women's tennis captain Petr Pala announced on
Wednesday that Petra Kvitova will lead her teammates in the Fed Cup
final next week, the sixth seed announced that she is dropping out of
the WTA tournament in Istanbul due to illness. Kvitova was diagnosed
with bronchitis, but her coach David Kotyza said she may still appear
at Prague's O2 arena next week for the Fed Cup final against the
Serbian team. Pala said that in case Kvitova is unable to compete,
Klara Zakopalova may step in and join teammates Lucie Safarova, Andrea
Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. The Fed Cup final is scheduled to begin
on Monday 29 October with an exhibition match between Petra Kvitova and
the Russian Maria Sharapova.


Most parts of the Czech Republic will remain cloudy and foggy on
Thursday, with light rain expected in some places. High temperatures
will be between 11 and 15 degress Celsius.

Articles posted on today
PM, finance minister, scramble to reach deal or find alternative to tax

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas is facing arguably his biggest
political hurdle since taking office: to convince rebel MPs from within
his own party to toe the line on the government's tax package or risk
the future of the centre-right cabinet. But after talks on Tuesday saw
no breakthrough, the prime minister and other members of his government
scrambled for alternatives to avoid the government's fall.
Spa treatment becoming less affordable for Czechs

For many years getting spa treatment covered by the state was one of
the benefits afforded by health sector and all one needed to do was ask
one's doctor, citing a real or imaginary problem that a month of
pampering at one of the country's famous spas would put right. Since
the 1990s a gradual overhaul of the health sector has made it
increasingly difficult to avail oneself of this luxury and a new
directive introduced as of October 1st has drawn a sharp line between
those who really need spa treatment and those who are just there for
the pampering.

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