A government bill to raise regulated rent has made it through the first
reading in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. The bill, which
sees regulated rent increase by an annual average of 9.3% for a period
of six years, is now to be discussed by a number of parliamentary
committees. Under the government's proposal, the annual increases would
begin in October 2006.
An estimated 750,000 flats are rent-controlled in the Czech Republic. If the bill comes into effect, an additional 36 billion crowns will be collected in rent, in the six years, according to Regional Development Ministry estimates.
Four out of seven companies have advanced to the second round of a close to one billion US dollar Czech Army tender, reportedly the biggest in its history. The four bidders that are still in the race to supply over 200 armoured transport vehicles, from 2007 to 2012, are the United State's BAE Systems, Finland's Patria, Austria's Steyer-Daimler-Puch and Germany's Rheinmetall.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has appointed actor Vitezslav Jandak culture
minister. Mr Jandak says his main priority will be to get his ministry a
bigger slice of the state budget and attract more sponsors to rebuild the
country's cultural heritage. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek expects the new
culture minister to establish a constructive dialogue with the churches -
an area, which has proved to be problematic in recent years. Mr Jandak
attended his first lower house meeting as culture minister, on Wednesday
evening, just hours after his appointment. He replaces the late Pavel
Dostal who died of cancer last month.
President Klaus also appointed the former Prague mayor, Igor Nemec, as head of the Office for Protection of Personal Data on Wednesday.
The Education Ministry has adopted a new plan that hopes to increase the number of Roma children from low-income families in secondary schools. Educational institutions have until the end of September to apply for up to 7,000 crowns (approx. 290 US dollars) to cover a Roma student's expenses for the period from September to December. These include tuition fees, and food and travel expenses. All applications will be processed by a special education ministry committee with representatives from regional offices, the ministries of interior and labour and social affairs, and the Government Council for Roma Affairs. The ministry has earmarked 10 million crowns (approx 420,000 US dollars) for this project.
President Vaclav Klaus is expected to appoint actor Vitezslav Jandak culture minister on Wednesday. Mr. Jandak will replace the late Pavel Dostal who died of cancer in July. The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said he expects the new culture minister to establish a constructive dialogue with the churches. This has proved to be a problematic area in recent years. The President will also be appointing the former Prague mayor, Igor Nemec, as head of the Office for Protection of Personal Data.
The Czech Republic has banned imports of poultry from Russia and Kazakhstan following reports of bird-flu virus in the region. The State Veterinary Office said the measure was indefinite and was in line with EU regulations. An epidemic caused by a dangerous strain of the virus is reported from Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains. Five hundred birds have died of it in the past 24 hours. The strain is the same one that killed dozens of people in Asia.
Jaroslav Basta, the former Czech ambassador to Russia, has been appointed deputy foreign minister for political issues. Basta served as minister without portfolio in the Social Democrat Cabinet headed by Milos Zeman where he was in charge of the intelligence services. He was also one of the people behind the former government's anti-corruption drive "Clean Hands". Its poor results were one of the reasons why Mr. Basta had to leave the cabinet in the year 2000.
The police have arrested a man who threatened to kill innocent people if he did not receive five million crowns from the state. The 21 year old sent the interior ministry a number of e-mails in which he said innocent people would die in a terrorist attack unless his conditions were met. He was arrested a week after sending the first mail. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
Parliament has asked the government for a complex report on the police action at the CzechTek techno party last month. The report is expected to say who specifically authorized the use of force against a 5,000 strong crowd, what were the reasons behind the decision, what orders the police were given and what were the consequences of the police intervention.
The Interior Ministry is planning to close down some of the local centres for foreign asylum seekers whose number has been declining, the daily Pravo wrote on Monday. According to an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, the number of applicants has dropped by half since the Czech Republic's EU entry, and the capacity of refugees' homes now exceeds the demand. She added that the final decision as to which asylum centres will be closed down will be made in several weeks. Almost 5,500 foreigners applied for asylum in the Czech Republic last year, the lowest number since 1999 and 52 percent fewer than in the previous year. Ukrainians and Russians prevailed among the asylum seekers. Over 77,000 people applied for asylum in the Czech Republic in the past 14 years, and it was granted to 2,500 of them.