The government has approved a proposal to cancel mandatory consent of both parents for the medical treatment of children. The Senate sent the proposal to the lower house last Friday with a request that it be fast-tracked. Consent from both parents was introduced in the health services reform package and has come under criticism for causing problems both in families and in health care facilities, with many saying the practice is impossible to carry out in many cases and only leads to signatures being forged. The new legislation would allow the child’s own consent to suffice. If a doctor deems that the child is not mature enough to make the decision, the consent of one parent plus a grandparent or nanny will suffice.
The government has told the Finance Ministry to complete the draft state budget for 2013 and the medium-term outlook by the end of August. The Czech Press Agency reports that government on Tuesday approved a deficit goal of 2.9% of GDP in 2013, 1.9% GDP in 2014 and 0.9% n 2015. The 2013 deficit has been projected at 100 billion crowns; the Finance Ministry wants that to drop to 70 billion in 2014 and 30 billion in 2015. This year´s budget deficit was projected at 105 billion crowns, but already stood at 79 billion by the end of May. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek still insists the planned level should not be crossed this year.
The party of Miloš Zeman says it has acquired the 50,000 signatures necessary for the former prime minister to run for president. The chairman of the Party of Civic Rights – Zemanovci, Vratislav Mynář, told the press on Tuesday that their petition for Mr Zeman’s candidacy had received morethan 50,200 signatures in roughly two months, and that more were being added. Zeman already received nominations from ten senators, which also would have sufficed for his candidature, but also wanted to test public support with the petition. Other candidates at present include former prime minister Jan Fischer, Social Democrat Jiří Dienstbier, and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Elections will be held in February of 2013.
Energy giant ČEZ has reached a settlement with the European Commission, which is investigating the company on suspicion of stifling competition. A ČEZ spokesman announced Tuesday that the company has agreed to sell one of five coal power plants. The EC began investigating the power company in July 2011 over suspicions that it was restricting competition on the wholesale electricity market and hoarding capacity in the transmission network so as to prevent a rival company from entering the market. If Brussels found ČEZ guilty, the Czech company may have received a fine in the order of tens of billions of crowns or could have been forced to sell a part of its assets.
Further restrictions of defence expenditures would jeopardize the safety of the Czech Republic, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra said Tuesday. Speaking at the Žofín Forum in Prague, Mr Vondra said that soldiers must be properly remunerated for their work and defence should invest only in viable and well thought through projects, particularly with regards to the modernisation of the army. NATO, he said, would in the future be focusing more on defence of its territory and is demanding a minimum contribution of 2% GDP, which the Czech Republic has not fulfilled in recent years. Last year for example, its defence expenditures amounted to 1.15% of GDP.
As of Wednesday children will have to have their own identity papers when travelling abroad. The papers may consist of a passport or ‘child’s ID’, which can replace a passport within the EU. Until now, parents have been able to have their children registered in their own ID papers. As of the beginning of next year, children’s documents will also have to include biometric data that will be valid for five years. The changes are required by European Union directives.
The government has approved 25.9 billion crowns for research, development and innovation next year. The same amount, which comes from the state budget, was also approved for the 2014 and 2015. The decision means a cut of roughly 700 million from 2012 that the Academy of Sciences has criticised, saying it will entail additional cuts of 300 million for its activities from year to year. The government says that the plan is in accordance with its long-term work to retain from cutting science funding in spite of budget restrictions in other areas.
Three out of four Czech children do not meet international recommendations for physical activity and do not get 60 minutes of activity a day, according to an international report released on Tuesday by Health Minister Leoš Heger. A fifth of boys and a tenth of girls are overweight or obese, says the report, and more than half of 13-year-olds and three-fourths of 15-year-olds have tried smoking. Frequent alcohol and marijuana use among children has also increased. The report is the result of a study from 2010 in which 230,000 children aged 11 to 15 from 41 countries took part.
The nuclear power plant of Dukovany has completed a project to raise its output from 1,760 MW to 2,000 MW. A plant spokesman told the Czech Press Agency that the EDU+ project had included the replacement and modernisation of eight turbine sets, generators and transformers and a rise in output among all four nuclear reactors. Dukovany has thus reached the same output level as the Temelin nuclear power plant in Southern Bohemia. The older of the two Czech nuclear power plants, Dukovany was the biggest domestic power producer last year, as in previous years. Its production rose by 1.3% year-on-year to 14,369 TWh, which was the second best performance in the plant´s nearly 27-year-old history.
Former Wimbledon runner-up and World No. 7 in men’s tennis Tomáš Berdych suffered an upset against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in the first round of Wimbledon on Monday. The player lost three tiebreakers in the result. The Czech was looking to reach the second round for the eighth straight year but came up short: 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4). The player expressed great frustration over the result in an interview for Mladá fronta Dnes, saying he hoped he would improve in the second half of the season.
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