The government’s assumption that a VAT hike would help fill state coffers and reduce the gap in public finances has proved wrong, Lidove Noviny writes in its Thursday edition. According to statistics VAT revenue in the first 7 months of this year has been the same or even lower than in the same period last year. The paper says the finance ministry has refused to comment and statistics offer a simple explanation Czechs are spending less. Although the prices of goods and services went up by 3.5 percent as of January, people paid 2.1 percent less for consumer goods and services. As of January 1st,2012, the Czech Republic increased the lower VAT rate from 10% to 14%.
Senator Vladimir Dryml has left the ranks of the Social Democratic Party in view of joining the Party of Citizen’s Rights set up by the former Social Democrat prime minister Milos Zeman. Announcing the news at a press briefing in Prague on Thursday the senator subjected his former party to scathing criticism saying it was rife with corruption, particularly at the regional level. Dryml is the second senator to swap the Social Democratic party in favour of Milos Zeman’s Party of Citizen’s Rights – senator Jirina Rippelova made the same move last week. Mr. Zeman’s new centre-left party is not represented in Parliament.
Police have filed charges against 13 members of the so-called Tofl gang of former police officers who are suspected of blackmailing an entrepreneur in south Moravia. It is not yet clear where the case will be judged. The head of the investigative squad has recommended the case should not go to a Brno or Olomouc court where the former officers could have contacts. The name of the gang is derived from its former boss Michal Tofl who was killed by a hit-man in June of 2010. The police have arrested and charged three men in connection with the murder; if found guilty they could face up to 20 years in jail.
A group of 34 Japanese children affected by radiation from the 2011 Fukushima disaster have arrived in the Czech Republic for therapy. They are to be treated in the Olivovna Children's Hospital located in the town of Říčany, just south-east of Prague. During their time at the facility, the patients are expected to undergo not only treatment but also a variety of well-being programmes such as swimming and horse riding.
The net monthly income of Czech households last year dropped for the first time since 1993, according to data released by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. The net monthly income fell to 12.000 crowns i.e. 146 crowns less than in 2010. Until last year, the net income of Czech households had been growing annually despite the economic crisis. In real terms, the income of Czech employee households decreased as well, amounting to about 97 percent of the figure for 2010. It was, however, about 29 percent higher than before the fall of the Communist regime in November 1989.
The board of the Czech Central Bank has decided to leave interest rates unchanged, the bank’s spokesman Marek Petrus told the CTK news agency on Thursday. The key interest rate thus remains at an all-time low of 0.5 percent. It was cut from 0.7 to 0.5 in June of this year and analysts predict it will stay on hold for the rest of the year at least.
According to an amendment to the law valid as of August 1st all pre-baked products to be finished at the place of distribution must be labeled accordingly at the given sales outlet. These oproducts allegedly go stale sooner and contain more additives. Although Czech salespeople have started adhering to the practice inspectors point out that the new regulation concerns not just bread and baguettes but also a broad range of pastry products such as doughnuts and cakes that supermarkets import pre-baked.
A court has sent a former police officer who robbed three banks and attempted a fourth bank robbery to seven and a half years in prison. The officer, who was heavily indebted, stole money to the tune of 1 million crowns. Although he was masked his colleagues recognized him and set a trap, catching him red-handed in the act of trying to rob a fourth bank. He may still appeal the verdict.
The AP news agency has given the Czech Olympic House in London top marks. In its guide to Olympic houses and pavilions the Czech House in Islington received a gold medal for its London Booster sculpture by artist David Cerny, the house’s modern interior and rich cultural programme for visitors. The only thing that Associated Press found fault with was the high price of its most popular dish – goulash and dumplings.