The six Civic Democrat deputies who are vehemently opposed to the government proposed VAT hike for 2013 say they will torpedo the government’s austerity package for next year if a compromise solution is not found. A series of negotiations with the Civic Democrat leadership has not brought the two sides any closer to agreement. The respective bill is crucial for next year’s state budget and the prime minister has linked it to a vote of confidence in his government. Civic Democrats opposed in principle to tax hikes claim that the money should be found by cost-cutting measures and through privatization, but this solution has been criticized in view of time-pressure.
The Dukovany power plant in Moravia which recently came under fire for the type of fuel used, will remain in operation, EURATOM agency officials confirmed on Wednesday. The Czech Republic had come under pressure from some EU member states to close down the power station because it was operating on fuel made of uranium enriched outside of the EU, namely in Russia. This runs against a European agreement signed in Corfu in 1994. EURATOM said Wednesday that although it was looking into the matter of other potential suppliers the plant was in no danger of being closed down and if no alternate supplier is found then the matter would be closed. CEZ argues that the contract on fuel deliveries with the Russian supplier Tvel was closed before the country’s admission to the EU and accepted by the EU authorities.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek has announced his decision to resign from his post in connection with the bribery scandal surrounding two of his closest associates - his deputy Vladimir Šiška and the head of IT Milan Hojer. At a press briefing in Prague on Wednesday minister Drábek said he did not feel guilty in any way but was ready to accept personal responsibility for this development in order not to damage his party TOP 09 further ahead of the regional and senate elections. The labour minister reiterated his firm belief in his deputy’s innocence but said he was not in a position to wait for Mr. Šiska to clear his name in court. The minister will leave his post at the end of the month.
Moravian farmers will demand compensation from the state for damages caused by this year’s drought, according to the head of the Moravian Agrarian Chamber Václav Hlaváček. Mr. Hlaváček told reporters on Wednesday that in Moravia the 2012 grain harvest was 65 percent smaller than last year’s due to the long months of drought which could have disastrous consequences for local farmers. He said farmers would request compensation to the tune of 750 million crowns. The situation in the Czech lands is slightly better although farmers say the harvest will be one of the worst in decades.
The Confederation of Czech and Moravian Trade Unions has called on the public not to give their vote to the ruling parties in the upcoming regional and senate elections. Trade Union leader Jaroslav Zavadil who has been increasingly critical of the centre-right government, said the centre right coalition was negatively impacting developments in the regions and any votes given to them would only serve to make matters worse. Trade unions predict a 2.0 to 2.5 percent inflation next year and have said they will strive for a respective minimal growth in wages.
The cabinet is planning to take effective action against unlicensed production and sale of spirits. The prime minister has given experts from the justice, health, industry and finance ministries a fortnight in which to produce new licensing regulations and control mechanisms which would enable the authorities to crack down on bootleg producers. The move comes in the wake of a serious outbreak of methanol-related deaths from bootleg liquor, which estimates say makes up 20 percent of the spirits market. The government is also planning to step up the fight against alcohol abuse by minors.
The Czech minister of labour and social affairs, Jaromír Drábek, on
Tuesday dismissed his deputy, Vlastimil Šiška whom the police have
charged with bribery. Mr Drábek, from the TOP 09 party, said he felt
“full political responsibility” for giving him the job, and added if
Šiška is proven guilty, he would himself step down from his post.
The police have charged deputy labour and social affairs minister Vlastimil Šiška and another official at the ministry with bribery but have not released any details as to the nature of their allegedly criminal activities.
Czech national side captain Tomáš Rosický has not fully recovered from his Achilles heel injury and will miss the team’s world cup qualifiers against Malta and Bulgaria, national team manager Michal Bílek said on Tuesday. The 31-year-old Arsenal FC and Czech international midfielder missed the Czechs’ first qualifying game against Denmark in September which ended in a 0-0 draw. Manager Bílek will also miss the injured midfielders Václav Pilař and Daniel Kolář and striker Tomáš Necid in the upcoming World Cup qualification games.
The Krnov-based organ maker Rieger-Kloss Varhany has begun working on a large pipe organ for a concert hall in the Chinese city of Jinan, the firm’s manager Jakub Škrhel told the news agency ČTK on Tuesday. The large instrument with 88 registers will be worth around 1.2 million euro. After its completion, it will be dismantled and shipped to China where it should arrive next summer, Mr Škrhel said. This will be the second pipe organ made by the Czech firm for a Chinese client; the first was delivered to the city of Tianjin.
Customs officials confiscated 50 litres of homemade cherry brandy last
week containing deadly methyl alcohol. The owner had bought 20 litres of
distillate from a door-to-door seller but sent samples to a laboratory to
test the beverage for methanol. The police have warned people against
buying any alcohol from door-to-door sellers.
The recent outbreak of methanol poisoning has claimed the lives of 27 people while dozens of others were intoxicated. In response, the government introduced a ban on spirits sales which was lifted last week.
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