A regulation under which casual workers have to undergo a medical examination even if they will only hold a job for one day has been voted the “Absurdity of the Year” in a poll conducted by the business daily Hospodářské noviny. If firms hire the same person for a second day’s work at a later date they are required to get a fresh doctor’s certificate. The annual survey is intended to highlight nonsensical administrative duties forced on businesses by state agencies.
November 22 is the 100th anniversary of the opening of one of Prague’s best-known buildings, the Municipal House (Obecní dům). A popular landmark today, its combination of the French Baroque style with Art Nouveau decoration split opinion among architects and the city’s residents at the time of its opening in 1912. The Municipal House was originally conceived as a cultural centre and it remains one, hosting concerts at its grand Smetana Hall and occasional exhibitions. It is also home to a Viennese style café and a French restaurant.
Two Czech soccer clubs have their sights set on reaching the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday night. Viktoria Plzeň, who face the Portuguese side Academica de Coimbra away, need only one point from their last two group games to go through. Sparta are in the same position, but they will face an arguably tougher opponent on Thursday in the form of France’s Olympique Lyonnais, who they will be hosting in Prague.
The cabinet has approved a new 2013 draft budget, reflecting the present economic situation and government-proposed austerity measures. The new budget proposal has a projected 100 billion crown deficit and a net decrease in revenues and expenditures of 4 billion crowns, compared to the previous budget proposal. The deficit set by the proposal makes up 2.9 percent of the GDP. This is the third budget proposal that the Finance Ministry has submitted. The Chamber of Deputies is set to hold the first hearing on the budget next Wednesday.
Milan Štěch from the Social Democratic Party has been re-elected as chairman of the Czech Senate. The deputy chairpersons elected on Wednesday were Social Democrats Alena Gajdůšková and Zdeněk Škromach, along with the former senate chairman for the Civic Democrats Přemysl Sobotka. Christian Democrat senator Jiří Čunek did not receive enough votes in either of the two rounds of voting. According to the head of the Christian Democratic club in the Senate, this invalidates an agreement between the senate clubs made after the October senate elections. The club will have to find a new candidate for the position.
The prime minister has announced that the Czech delegation to Brussels will strongly voice their disapproval of the proposed EU budget for 2014-2020 at an EU summit later this week. Yet, the prime minister said on Wednesday that he is not planning to veto the long-term budget proposal, unlike a number of other EU members. The priority for the Czech Republic is to remain a net recipient of EU funds and to prevent a decrease in spending for cohesion policies.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas announced Tuesday that people will not be required to use the recently introduced social benefits S-Cards for payment purposes. The S-Cards will be used for identification purposes, but people will not be required to receive electronic pension, welfare and benefits payments on the cards. Following political and public criticism of the scheme that was launched last week, the prime minister and the new Labor and Social Affairs Minister Ludmila Müllerová opened talks with the Česká spořitelna bank, which is in charge of operating the S-Cards, to change the current agreement the company has with the ministry.
The government approved a proposed amendment to the anti-discrimination law, which should improve conditions for whistleblowers in the workplace. The amendment provides for better legal protection for those who report illegal activities of their employers. Anti-corruption measures and support for whistleblowers are both part of the current government’s programs, yet this is the first legislative proposal of its kind that has been approved since Prime Minister Petr Nečas took office in 2010. According to some experts, the proposed amendment does not provide enough protection, and fails to create incentives for whistleblowers. The Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake was charged with presenting the full legislative proposal by the end of April.
Negative attitudes among Czech towards the Roma minority have stayed the same since last October, but violence towards the group is more frowned upon, according to the latest survey by the STEM agency. Seventy-one percent of the respondents expressed some level of dislike for Romani people, only 4% less than in April 2011. Yet, 69% of people are opposed to violence against the Roma, which is a third more than at the same time last year. Those supporting violence make up 16% of the respondents, while a year ago it was also 25%. According to the survey, almost a quarter of the population has no opinion about or views members of the Romani community the same as any other, while 5% percent have a good or very good opinion of the minority.
The new Labor and Social Affairs Minister Ludmila Müllerová (TOP 09) wants to carry out personnel changes at the ministry in order to cut ties with the former first deputy Vladimír Šiška, according to the Lidové noviny daily. Vladimír Šiška was charged with bribery in October, after which the then labor minister Jaromir Drabek resigned from his post.