Former Education Minister Josef Dobeš has founded the New Movement for Sport. The Public Affairs Party member has said that the New Movement will be engaged politically and has aspirations to run in parliamentary elections in 2014. The group’s main goals are to push for a new law on the financing of sports, and in general strengthen the sporting community in the country. At a press conference on Thursday, Mr Dobeš said that a number of famous Czech sporting personalities support the movement, and that they also have popular support in a number of regions.
The presidential Václav Havel Library has publicly announced its support for the presidential candidacy of Karel Schwarzenberg. The mission of the Prague-based library, that was founded in 2004, is to disseminate information about former Czech and Czechoslovak President Václav Havel and his works, as well as collecting an archive of materials by and about him. Karel Schwarzenberg, who is currently the finance minister, at one point served as the chancellor in President Havel’s cabinet.
Prague city hall has announced that it will try to re-negotiate the contract it has with the owners of Škodův palace, where many of the central administrative offices are located. The city hall has previously announced that the rent and terms of the contract are disadvantageous. Rent prices in the surrounding buildings are allegedly almost half of the 196 million crowns that the city paid last year for renting the Škodův palace in Jungmannová street. If the palace’s owners will not offer a better price, city hall officials will consider filing a legal complaint.
The Olympic javelin champion Barbora Špotáková has been named Czech Sportsperson of the Year. Špotáková, who is 31, received the award, which is voted on by members of the Club of Sports Journalists, at a ceremony in Prague on Wednesday evening. She also won the prize four years ago, when she took her first Olympic gold. The athlete recently announced she was taking a year out in 2013 to have her first child.
The Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday approved changes to the Czech Republic’s VAT rates that will come into effect next year. The Senate had previously rejected the plan to raise the basic VAT rate to 15 percent and the higher rate to 21 percent. The legislation now goes before the president, Václav Klaus, who has criticised the change. If Mr. Klaus does veto it, a previously approved single VAT rate of 17.5 percent would come into effect in January, raising the prices of foodstuffs, medicines, health supplies and other items. At present the country has VAT rates of 14 and 20 percent.
Civic Democrat MP Roman Pekárek, who has been jailed for five years for corruption, says he will not give up his seat in the Czech lower house until he has exhausted all legal means of fighting his sentence, the news website ihned.cz reported. However, he cannot appeal a verdict handed down on Tuesday in connection with bribe-taking over a land deal. Mr. Pekárek only entered Parliament recently, when another member of his party resigned. He is set to receive an MP’s salary while in prison, though the Civic Democrats have proposed annulling the pay of convicted deputies.
Local authorities in the Czech Republic are set to receive the power to impose a three-month residency ban on individuals who repeatedly commit selected misdemeanors, such as prostitution, drinking alcohol or begging in spots where such activities are forbidden. At present, only courts can impose residency bans. The new powers will not relate to places where perpetrators have permanent residence. The lower house narrowly approved the Civic Democrat-submitted legislation on Wednesday, overturning a veto by President Václav Klaus; he described the measure as populist and possibly unconstitutional.
The expropriation of property in connection with the mining of mineral resources such as coal will no longer be possible, after the Czech lower house overturned a veto by President Václav Klaus. This confirmed an amendment to the law on mining that did away with the use of eminent domain in such cases. This is good news for communities in North Bohemia that had faced the threat of being forced to move, and a spokesperson for Greenpeace said they could not have received a better Christmas present.
The lower house of Parliament has passed a bill which will raise the salaries of judges and state attorneys. The bill, which sets a legal framework for the calculation of salaries in 2013, was passed under an accelerated mechanism known as legislative emergency, in view of the fact that the current system has been abolished by the Constitutional Court as of the end of the year. Under the draft proposal, which still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president, judges will receive 2.7 times the average wage in the public sector.
Forty-one percent of babies born in the Czech Republic in 2011 were to unmarried couples, according to official figures released on Wednesday. The percentage of babies born outside marriage has been growing since the end of 1970s, but has accelerated in recent years. Parents have also been getting older, with the 30 to 34 age category the most common for mothers last year. Around 17 percent of babies were born to women of 35 or older.