Prime Minister Petr Nečas said at a press briefing in Prague on Wednesday the fall of the Slovak government over an EU bailout fund was bad news. The Czech cabinet has a close working relationship with Prime Minister Iveta Radičova’s pro-reform government. In developments on Wednesday three out of Slovakia’s four centre-right coalition parties struck a deal with the left wing opposition party Smer on support for the EU rescue fund in a repeat vote later this week, to be followed by early elections in March.
The deficit in Czech public finances in 2011 should drop below 4 percent of GDP, Finance Minister Miroslv Kalousek told the budgetary committee of the Czech lower house on Wednesday. Originally the ministry had forecast a deficit of 4.6 percent, a projection later modified to 4.2 percent. The Czech National Bank has also forecast a deficit of 3.8 percent this year. According to the ministry’s long-term outlook the 2012 deficit should drop to 3,5 percent and reach 2,9 the year after.
The government on Wednesday debated a report on the plight of the
country’s Romany minority which for the most part lives in social
exclusion. According to available statistics there are around 400 slums in
the Czech Republic with an estimated 80,000 inhabitants, predominantly from
the Roma minority. Prime Minister Nečas told reporters that the key to
breaking the vicious circle of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion
was to give Romany children equal opportunities in education and help them
overcome cultural barriers.
The government report cites an alarming lack of progress in this sphere noting that Romany children were almost automatically placed in special schools for disadvantaged children which made it highly unlikely they would find a job and live a better life than their parents. With increasing racial tension in Roma populated areas some municipalities have moreover created a system of residential and social policies that essentially displace troublesome groups of people to the community’s outskirts.
The European Commission on Wednesday proposed an overhaul of the EU’ s common agricultural policy which would have far-reaching impacts on Czech farmers. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloş the proposal would restrict farming subsidies to 30,000 euros (7.4 million crowns ) per year. Part of the payments would moreover be linked to adherence to certain ecological norms. The proposal which was unveiled on Wednesday is expected to trigger a heated debate, especially in the light of Europe’s present economic problems.
The Czech Republic is sending members of the country’s rapid deployment squad to protect the Czech embassy in Libya. Following a reconnaissance mission by a special team the Czech Foreign Ministry on Wednesday approved Ambassador Josef Koutsky’s return to Tripoli on Thursday. The special unit is to remain at the embassy for as long as necessary. The Czech Foreign Ministry also earmarked 4 million crowns from its aid fund for humanitarian aid to Libya.
The town of Šluknov, which has seen a rise in crime and growing racial tension in recent months, has moved to restrict the opening hours of bars with gaming machines. The town council approved a regulation banning the use of gaming machines after midnight which should reduce noise pollution, curb crime and help maintain law and order. The town’s initial intention was to ban gaming machines as such, but the police advised against such a move saying it would result in their being operated illegally.
A Prague Court has slapped a 40 million crown fine on the Czech Communist Party for cancelling a sales contract on one of its buildings in the city centre. The party put the building up for sale and signed a contract with the Italian Firm Poste Re, but later changed its mind and scrapped the deal as disadvantageous. Party officials have not so far commented on the verdict.
This year´s harvest is one of the best in the last two decades, the Czech Statistical Office said Wednesday, citing a year-on-year increase of 19.4 percent in the grain harvest. The potato harvest grew by 18.2 percent and the sugar-beet harvest by 13.2 percent. A total of 8.2 million tonnes of grains were harvested this year, a figure surpassed only three times in the last twenty years. According to the President of the Czech Agrarian Chamber Jan Veleba, the country will fully meet its needs and be able to export a record 3 million tonnes of grains.
The Czech national football team defeated Lithuania Tuesday evening, keeping alive their hopes for European Championship qualification. The Czechs led 3:0 at the end of the first half, before Lithuania won one goal back on a penalty that the Czech side reduced to 10 men. Despite playing shorthanded, the Czechs were able to add one more goal on their own penalty kick, ending the match 4:1. Scotland’s 3:1 loss to Spain, which played out at the same time, will allow the Czech Republic to proceed to the knockout round to be held November 11 and 15. Their opponent in that match will be drawn on Thursday.