The Senate economics committee has recommended that the upper house reject the government’s proposal for church restitution. The bill will be voted on next week in the Senate, which is controlled by the opposition. Should it be rejected, the proposal will head back to the Chamber of Deputies, where the government will require 101 votes to overturn the Senate vote. Under the draft legislation, the Czech state would return some 56 percent of the physical property worth around 75 billion crowns; for the rest, Czech churches and religious societies would receive some 60 billion crowns in compensation over a period of 30 years.
Some six dozen political groups have registered for this autumn’s regional elections. The previous regional elections in 2008 saw 60 groupings, four of which did not run because they failed to meet all election requirements. The elections will show whether the opposition Social Democratic Party will be able to maintain its dominance of all 13 of the Czech Republic’s regions. Apart from the major political parties, extra-parliamentary groups like the Party of Citizens´ Rights of Milos Zeman, Sovereignty of Jana Bobošiková, the Greens, the Pirates and the far-right Workers´ Party of Social Justice will seek the support from voters.
A mine exploded in a field near Břeclav in South Moravia on Wednesday when it was run over by a tractor. Police said the 47-year-old driver was mulching his field when the glass and wheels were shattered by the explosion. He walked away from the blast unharmed, though the machine itself was badly damaged. The mine is believed to have been laying in the ground since the Second World War.
Senators for the opposition Social Democratic Party will lodge a complaint with the Czech Constitutional Court if the average pension drops below 40 percent of the gross salary, the Speaker of the Senate Milan Štech told journalists on Tuesday. Senator Štech said the complaint would be based on the argument that the Czech Republic has ratified an international convention under which old-age pensions should reach at least two-fifths of gross earnings. The upper house is to debate a government bill that will reduce the growth of pensions as part of a broader austerity package.
The conservative group D.O.S.T. has asked Prime Minister Petr Nečas to publicly support their protest action against Prague Pride, a week-long festival in support of gay and lesbian rights due to take place next week. The group says it has turned to Mr. Nečas as the leader of a party that has repeatedly advocated conservative and family values. It has also asked for support from Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, who rejected a similar appeal last year. The week of Prague Pride events includes debates, parties and exhibitions and will culminate with a march through the city centre on Saturday, August 18th.The group D.O.S.T. plans to stage its own march in support of traditional family values in the city centre.
The authorities in Ostrava say the eviction order for people living in atrocious conditions in a Romany ghetto remains in place. An inspection on Monday reportedly confirmed that the buildings are in a severe state of disrepair and present a serious health hazard. Some 100 people, most of them families with children, have refused to leave their homes although the deadline for eviction expired last Saturday. They have started minor repairs in the buildings in an effort to get the order reversed. However the authorities claim that these repairs do not address the main source of the problem –such as faults to the electricity circuit, leaking waste water and mould-infested, damp interiors.
Life at the Shank operating base in Logar province, Afghanistan, is reported to have returned to normal after a terrorist attack by a suicide bomber on Tuesday morning. Thirty four people were reported injured in the attack, none of them Czechs. There are currently some 300 Czech soldiers and civilian experts at the Shank operating base home to the Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Close to 300 Czech companies moved their headquarters to tax havens in the first half of this year, an increase of 2.5 percent year on year. Analysts say that if the set pace continues in the second half of 2012 it will be the biggest outflow of capital in the last three years. According to data provided by the Czech Capital Information Agency 366,500 companies registered in the Czech Republic are controlled from tax havens. Among the most attractive destinations are the Netherlands, Cyprus and Luxembourg.
The leadership of the TOP 09 coalition party said on Tuesday it fully accepted the presidential candidacy of lawyer Klára Samková. Party deputy leader Miroslav Kalousek said Mrs. Samková was fully entitled to run for president and had not asked for party support. News that the respected lawyer would be joining the presidential race caused some consternation in view of the fact that the party is officially supporting the candidacy of its leader Karel Schwarzenberg. Mrs. Samková, who announced her decision this week, says she is not perceived as a TOP 09 party member but as a dedicated lawyer who specializes in cases involving the rights of minorities.
Shell service stations around the Czech Republic have dramatically cut fuel prices forcing competitors to follow suit. Shell unexpectedly started selling the top selling Natural 95 petrol for 34,90 crowns per litre this week, approximately two crowns below the average, making some 100 rival service stations cut their own prices. Rival companies have filed a complaint at the anti-monopoly office. Shell has refused to comment on its price policy.
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