President Václav Klaus on Friday re-appointed Mojmír Hampl and Vladimír Tomšík members of the board of the Czech National Bank. Their second six-year term will begin on December 1; they now serve as deputy-governors of the bank and will retain their positions. President Klaus said the bank could do more to boost the growth of the Czech economy; Vladimír Tomšík however noted the central bank’s main responsibility was to maintain the stability of the Czech currency and the inflation rate was close to the bank’s target. The Czech crown strengthened slightly upon the news.
Three different rates of the value added tax could be in place in January 2013 due to a possible delay in approving the government’s tax legislation, the Czech branch of the advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said on Friday. If the process of approving the tax package is delayed, a single VAT rate of 17.5 would come into force on January 1. This will be replaced by two rates of 15 and 21 percent, respectively when the government legislation comes into effect later in the month. This would be an unprecedented situation for the country’s businesses and firms, PwC said.
Social Democrat Michal Hašek was re-elected the governor of the South Moravian region on Friday, following his party’s victory in October’s elections. The region will be ruled by a coalition of Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. In the western Karlovy Vary region where the Communists won the ballot, Social Democrat Josef Novontý was re-elected governor. This was part of a deal between the Communists and the Social Democrats who formed a coalition there.
Dozens of international trains face delays following an accident on the Czech Republic’s major railway route. The accident occurred shortly before 5 PM on Friday when a train hit man on the railway line near Pardubice. Czech Railways said the line should be reopened at 7:30 PM; in the meantime, dozens of express trains connecting Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia via Prague will be detoured and delayed. Several local trains have been cancelled.
The Ústí region, in the north of the country, will push for the lifting of government-imposed limits on coal mining, the region’s governor Oldřich Bubeníček, of the Communist Party, said on Friday. Mr Bubeníček said this could save hundreds of jobs in the region, but added that an agreement between mining firms and the affected municipalities was needed before any decision on the issue is taken. Limits on coal mining were imposed in 1991 to protect the environment in northern Bohemia and other areas devastated mainly by surface mining of lignite.
The police have arrested five men and charged them with blackmail, robbery and other crimes, a spokesman for the organized crime unit of Czech police said on Friday. The men allegedly targeted wealthy people in the Pardubice region in eastern Bohemia and blackmailed them for money, using threats of violence against them and their families. They also allegedly set at least eight cars on fire, two of which belonged to police officers investigating the case, the police said.
Arsenal FC and Czech international midfielder Tomáš Rosický could appear in a league game next week, after a five month absence caused by injury. Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger said the 32-year-old Czech footballer should be back with the team on Monday, a week after he resumed training with the team. Tomáš Rosický injured his Achilles tendon during the European championships in June. Next week, Arsenal plays Everton and Swansea in the Premier League.
Speaking in Brussels just ahead of a key summit on the EU’s next seven-year budget, the Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, said he would fight a proposed cut in the bloc’s cohesion fund; the Czech Republic has had EUR 26.7 billion at its disposal between 2007 and 2013, with the money available to all regions except Prague. Mr. Nečas said plans to reduce that sum to EUR 19.5 billion between 2014 and 2020 were unacceptable. He said the Czech Republic, unlike a number of states, was not threatening a veto, but, he added, neither would it approve any plan whatsoever.
A Czech military pilot died on Thursday after his fighter plane crashed west of Kolín in central Bohemia. The pilot was returning to base from exercises when his Czech-built L 159 one-seater aircraft came down in an unpopulated area and burst into flames, a spokesperson for the General Staff told reporters. His body was found in the wreckage. The cause of the crash is being investigated.
A Czech government bill to return billions of dollars worth of property confiscated from churches under the Communist regime is set to go into effect, after the president, Václav Klaus, said that he had not vetoed it. However, neither did the president sign the legislation, saying he wished to distance himself from the plan, which has proven divisive among Czech society. Under the bill, the state will return part of the land and property seized by the Communists in the 1950s, while it will repay the rest of the original value in the form of monetary compensation over a period of 30 years. Both the Social Democrats and the Communist Party say they will take the matter to the Constitutional Court.