Members of the outgoing government of the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and
LIDEM met for the last time on Wednesday before a new cabinet put together
by prime minister designate Jiří Rusnok is named. The new interim
cabinet is not yet complete and a new environment minister and finance
minister, for example,
have yet to be named. The caretaker government is expected to be named
next week and will have 30 days to ask for a confidence vote in the lower
Absent on Wednesday were Justice Minister Pavel Blažek and the deputy prime minister, Karolína Peake. On the agenda was an assessment of the overall damage caused by floods which hit the country last month as well as the release of 200 million crowns for volunteer fire fighters. In the same cabinet session, the government opted to raise the budget for science and scientific research. Next year, the sector should see an increase of 1.5 billion crowns. The current annual budget for scientific research is 26.1 billion.
The Vietnamese and Belorussian communities in the Czech Republic will have their own representatives on the government’s Council for National Minorities, the outgoing coalition agreed on Wednesday. The news was released by the human rights commissioner Monika Šimůnková. Until now, representatives of both communities took part as guest attendees. Adam Kalita, of the NGO Pahonia, will represent the Belorussians, while Huu Uyen Pham, of the NGO Van Lang, will represent the Vietnamese community. The new members will be able to help form legislation regarding minorities. Until now 12 minorities were represented: Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Polish, Roma, Ruthenian, Russian, Greek, Slovak, Serbian, and Ukrainian.
Outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas has sent a letter to the State Attorney’s office stating that he is ready to provide information relevant to the case involving his former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová. Mr Nečas is hoping that his testimony will help limit the time that suspects in the case remain in police custody. Ms Nagyová and seven other former politicians and public officials were arrested in an police raid in mid-June. The former chief-of-staff is a suspect in two cases, one of which is related to her allegedly ordering military intelligence to spy on the prime minister’s wife. These circumstances caused Mr Nečas to resign from office, precipitating the current government crisis.
The Czech Republic was the worst country in the EU last year in terms of drawing and reporting European funding, according to the European Commission’s annual report. The document criticizes the Czech finance ministry’s inability to carry out proper checks of money received from the EU’s operational funds. As a result of the ministry’s failure to install a functional system of oversight, recipients and bodies distributing funding made a number of mistakes and even committed fraud, resulting in significant losses for the state budget. The ministry admitted past mistakes, saying that most of them happened because audits were carried out by the institutions that distributed the money, not by the finance ministry itself.
The mayor of Kyjov, Frantíšek Lukl, 35, has accepted an offer by prime minister-designate Jiří Rusnok to become the new minister for regional development. In a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Lukl said he would look to continue preparations for the drawing of EU funds from 2014 – 2020. The official, a graduate from the Faculty of Law at Brno´s Masaryk University, has served as mayor since 2005. Jiří Rusnok’s caretaker government is to be appointed on July 10.
Fewer than 75,000 people signed up for a recently-introduced private
pension scheme, the so-called second pillar, ahead of a July 1 deadline
individuals over the age of 35. Pension funds originally expected half a
million people to join. The number of the clients is based on the data of
companies offering private pension schemes. Czech Pension Funds´
Association head Karel Svoboda said all pension funds would take care of
clients who joined the second pillar and none of the funds planned to end
activities. Mr Svoboda said it would be a major mistake to cancel
the second pillar without a real alternative.
Since January individuals have been able to redirect three percent from their social insurance payments to the pay-as-you-go state system to private funds if they add 2 percentage points from their own money. Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas charged that many people were influenced by a statement of the opposition Social Democrats in which they promised to cancel the second pillar if they win the next elections.
Outgoing Culture Minister Alena Hanáková took a final decision on a building on Wenceslas Square and Opletalova Street slated for demolition, making clear it was not a heritage site and could be torn down to make room for a new one. The project faced opposition earlier from some experts and members of the public who took part in demonstrations. A commission spent several months looking into the matter. City Hall earlier gave the building’s owner, Flow East, the go-ahead to tear the building down. If the decision were reversed now, the firm indicated, it would have sought compensation in the millions of crowns.
Parts of the Czech Republic’s D1 highway will be closed off beginning on 8 PM Friday and lasting until 2 PM the next day. A section of the highway at Loket – Koberovice between the 66th to 81st kilometres will be closed, with detours in place, as well as the 153rd to 162nd kilometres near Velká Biteš. The sections of the highway will be closed to allow the demolition of six overpasses. Fourteen police units will oversee traffic in the Vysočina area where the demolitions are taking place. Friday marks the beginning of a long weekend in the Czech Republic; some motorists may opt to head to country homes or other destinations a day earlier.
Czech car owners will be able to order personalised license plates as of 2015, according to a proposal which passed easily in the upper house on Wednesday. There are a number of restrictions: for example, personalised plates must in no way be vulgar or include acronyms of existing bureaux. Personalised plates will cost 5,000 crowns. The president will still have to sign the bill for it to come into effect.
American actor F. Murray Abraham – best-known in the Czech Republic for his Oscar-winning performance as composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (Miloš Forman, 1984), will head to Karlovy Vary on Thursday for the 48th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. On Wednesday evening Mr Abraham is performing at the Prague Proms; organisers of both festivals were able to ensure he would attend Karlovy Vary as well. He and cinematographer Miroslav Ondřícek will present Czech costume designer Theodor Pištěk (who, like Mr Abraham, received an Oscar for Amadeus) with a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. F. Murray Abraham has starred in dozens of film productions throughout his career including Scarface and the sci-fi thriller Mimic. In 1990 he played the title role in a TV version of Václav Havel’s Largo Desolato.