The Czech government has approved a national strategy to combat poverty and social exclusion. The three-year plan calls for dozens of measures aimed at improving the security, housing, education and employment of low-income housing residents at a cost of billions of crowns. A number of the measures are to ensure that children from such communities are integrated into society and have the same conditions as others. Others envision programmes against hate crime and flexible work programmes on public projects for the long-term unemployed. According to available statistics there are some 400 slums around the country with an estimated 80.000 inhabitants, predominantly from the Roma minority.
The town of Rumburk has rejected a proposal from local Roma to form their own civil patrols. Rumburk Town Hall said it was not against conscientious Roma providing neighbourly assistance for one another, but that patrols as such would have no authority. The town also rejected a request for non-residential spaces for youth centres on the grounds that other locals would not be given such benefits, and that it would be better in any case for Roma to integrate more with others.
The District Court of Olomouc is hearing the case of a shop owner accused of selling synthetic drugs packaged as collectors’ items. The chemicals contained in the goods were not listed as banned substances at the time of sale, however the state prosecutor believes the 25-year-old defendant was knowingly trading in addictive drugs purchased in Poland and sold through his Amsterdam store chain and had advertised accordingly. The defendant asserts that the items were marked as non-consumables and claims he is being singled out, as similar shops around Europe sell the same products without being prosecuted.
The Czech coalition government on Wednesday unanimously approved the 2012 state budget, with a deficit projected at 105 billion crowns. The proposed budget draft reckons with revenues of 1,084 billion crowns and expenditures of 1,189 billion crowns. The Transport Ministry received an additional four billion crowns for the State Transport Infrastructure Fund, half of what it had originally requested. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has not ruled out that the budget may have to be revised view of lower economic growth forecasts.
Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek is reported to have slapped a youth who insulted him outside the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday evening. The finance minister later confirmed the incident, saying that as he was approaching the house the young man shouted insults at him saying he was a thief and would hang. Mr. Kalousek said he could not let the incident pass and had given the young man his deserts. The finance minister said he hoped the youth would benefit from the lecture.
The Czech government will take into account the interests of small towns
and villages in reaching agreement on an amendment to the law on budgetary
tax redistribution, Prime Minister Petr Nečas assured the mayors of over
1,000 smaller towns who demonstrated outside the Office of the Government
on Wednesday. The mayors came to show their support for a draft amendment
on tax redistribution prepared by the Finance Ministry, but criticized by
the prime minister’s Civic Democratic Party.
The proposal would raise tax-based revenues for the 6 000 or so small towns and villages by a total of 13.5 billion crowns. Municipalities with 2000 to 10,000 inhabitants would profit most from the change. At the same time it would strip the four biggest cities – Prague, Brno, Ostrava and Plzen – of a total of some five billion crowns for the benefit of smaller municipalities. The prime minister said his party was ready for a compromise that would ensure that large cities would not get more than three-times the amount given to small municipalities in the redistribution of tax yields.
The head of the country’s elite organized crime squad Robert Šlachta is in trouble for allegedly giving a suspect advance warning of his planned arrest. The suspect formerly worked for the police force in a subordinate position to the police chief. Mr. Šlachta has rejected the accusation, claiming it is an attempt to discredit him. A police inspection is investigating the case.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice has cancelled seven projects launched by his predecessor that cost the ministry 128 million crowns. Interior Ministry spokesman Pavel Novák told the daily Lidové Noviny that the programmes, which were mostly for training clerks or restricting administration, were scrapped based on a detailed analysis of their sustainability. The minister himself told the paper the programmes were “absolutely worthless”. Former interior minister Radek John, who launched the projects with EU funding but spent considerable resources on their preparation, criticised the decision and said he would be seeking an explanation. The Interior Ministry anticipates a budget of 700 million crowns less in 2012 and its operational expenses have been a frequent cause of concern this year.
Petr Dvořák, the former head of commercial TV Nova, has been elected the new executive director of Czech Public Television. Mr. Dvořák, a hot favourite from the first round, won twelve votes from the 15 member Czech radio and TV council. Chairman Milan Uhde said Dvorak had presented an impressive policy concept and was clearly the best candidate. In his analysis of Czech Television’s performance Mr. Dvořák criticized the work of the news and current affairs departments, said public television was bogged down in a production crisis and stressed the need for more educational programmes for children. He is to take up his post on October 1st.
A Prague district court on Wednesday handed the head of the Czech Association of Midwives Ivana Konigsmarkova a two year suspended sentence for inflicting grievous bodily harm through negligence. The midwife assisted a difficult home birth which lasted for the better part of three days and resulted in the child suffering severe brain damage. Doctors said later that with proper hospital care the mother could have delivered a perfectly healthy baby. They blamed the midwife for failing to assess the situation correctly and call for a doctor and ambulance.