The new vehicle registration system crashed yet again on Wednesday morning. The nationwide collapse made it impossible to connect to police and international vehicle databases, prolonging a crisis that has caused major problems for drivers since the system was launched on July 9. The new problem comes just a day after the Police Presidium announced that it had solved the problem by reinforcing its infrastructure and servers. Prime Minister Nečas has given the Transport Minister, Petr Dobeš, until Friday to resolve the problem or else resign. Latest reports suggest the system could take years to fully fix, while the company behind the work, ATS Telcom must still be paid a promised 37 million crowns for the faulty system.
Meanwhile, ATS Telcom has won a tender for the Czech Ministry of Defence to provide the government with anti cyber-attack technology. The contract is reportedly worth 56 million crowns. It was the lowest of three bids in the public tender process. Both hardware and software will be provided for the country's CIRC system (Computer Incident Response Center) with installation set to begin next year.
Former prime minister Miloš Zeman is gaining ground in the race for the Czech presidency. A new survey conducted by the agency Factum Invenio puts the long-time Social Democrat leader ahead of economist Jan Švejnar and just behind former interim prime minister Jan Fischer. According to the poll, Zeman and Fischer would go the second round of voting with Fischer winning by a four-point margin if direct elections were held today. The three frontrunners would be followed at a considerable distance by Social Democrat Jiří Dienstbier, businessman Tomio Okamura and TOP 09 chairman and Foreign Minister Karla Schwarzenberg. The successor to President Václav Klaus will be chosen for the first time by direct election on January 6 and February 5, 2013.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice plans to save half a billion crowns on policemen’s wages next year. The plan will reportedly be made next month in a proposal to the government on changes to organisation and the number of police officers. According to a comparative analysis that the ministry released on Wednesday, the Czech Republic leads Eastern European countries in numbers of officers and there are more officers handling the same workload compared with neighbouring countries. Mr Kubice indicated that the reorganisation of the force would primarily involve higher managerial positions with higher salaries.
The government has approved a proposal introducing new rules for appointments to state companies. The aim of the legislation, put forward by Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, is to increase the transparency of appointments to state and city businesses, where politicians often sit on supervisory boards and boards of directors. According to deputy prime minister Karolína Peake, the addition to the state’s anti-corruption strategy will mean that party affiliation will no longer be the main criterion for such appointments. Instead, the bill requires nominees to have greater expertise and sets rules for publishing their assessments. The opposition Social Democrats also support the bill, which they expect to clearly cover remuneration for such appointees as well.
The prime minister has praised the new justice minister’s plan to hold competitions for state attorneys’ posts. Regarding Justice Minister Blažek’s reluctance to appoint popular prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová to the post of Prague High State Attorney, Prime Minister Nečas said Wednesday that the competition will be good for the Czech judiciary. There has been abundant speculation in the last month that the former justice minister was fired because he planned to appoint Bradáčová, who is considered a strong anti-corruption prosecutor. The prime minister also praised Blažek for withstanding media pressure to follow through with the appointment.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas says Sweden is being “surprisingly unaccommodating” in negotiations regarding the renewal of a Defence Ministry contract for the rental of 14 Gripen fighter jets. The Czech Republic currently has the Jas-39 fighters on a 10-year lease for 19.6 billion crowns. Sweden is now insisting on two billion crowns a year, which Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra has rejected. The Czech Republic will be in exclusive negotiations with Sweden until November at which time it may hold an open tender for other providers.
The government has agreed to increase Czech reserves of oil products from 90 to 100 days over the next two years in line with new EU directives. The decision will cost the state 4.4 to 4.7 billion crowns, according to the proposal. The increase is reportedly necessary due to changes in the method of calculating reserves, which puts current oil product reserves at less than the legally required 90 days.
Overall confidence in the Czech economy fell again in July, according to the Czech Statistical Office. The statisticians also reported a decrease in the composite confidence indicator of 1.6 points compared to June while the consumer confidence indicator was up. Among entrepreneurs, confidence increased in trade and in construction. In selected services and in industry it declined. In industry in July, the assessment of the current overall economic situation went down while that of current total demand remained unchanged and foreign demand also decreased. The most important obstacle for production remains insufficient demand, as stated by more than half of respondents.
A total of 4.64 million passenger cars were in the register of road vehicles in the Czech Republic in the first half of this year and the average age of the car fleet increased to almost fourteen years, the Automotive Industry Association announced this week. Since 2000, 1.2 million passenger cars have been added to the register. The share of vehicles older than ten years continues to grow and at the end of reached 60.6% in the first half of 2012. The share of vehicles aged over fifteen years is higher than 32%, while only 7.1%ˇof cars are younger than two years, according to SAP data.