The Olomouc high state attorney has asked the lower house to strip outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas of his immunity, opening the way for possible prosecution. The request is presently being debated by the mandate and immunity committee of the Chamber of Deputies, ahead of a vote in the lower house. It comes in connection with a corruption and spying scandal in which the outgoing prime minister’s former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyova is heavily implicated. Eight people were arrested in connection with the scandal, among them three MPs from the prime minister’s own party. The prime minister resigned over the scandal and said he was ready to give evidence.
TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek said that if the police wanted to charge Mr. Nečas with corruption in connection with the case of three MPS who had been given lucrative posts in return for party loyalty then he would not support a motion to release him for prosecution. Mr. Kalousek said such deals were a common practice in politics anywhere. The Civic Democrats’ deputies group in Parliament has also said it would stand by Mr. Nečas. On the other hand, the junior party in the outgoing government, LIDEM, and the opposition Social Democrats have said they will await the recommendation of the mandate and immunity committee which has been able to study the police file on Mr. Necas.
Former caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer is to take up the post of finance minister and deputy prime minister in the caretaker administration of Jiří Rusnok. Mr. Fisher announced the news at a press briefing in Prague on Monday, saying his main task would be to re-start economic growth and prepare next year’s state budget. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok’s cabinet is thus complete and President Zeman is expected to appoint it to office on Wednesday. It will then have 30 days in which to ask the lower house for a vote of confidence.
Mr. Fischer, who has a 5 million crown debt, incurred in the course of his 2013 presidential campaign, said on Monday that he would meet his obligations within 48 hours. The new finance minister said he would do so with the help of sponsors and individual contributions could be viewed on a transparent account.
President Miloš Zeman is hosting a dinner at Prague Castle on Monday for the outgoing centre-right cabinet of prime minster Petr Nečas. Among those who have accepted his invitation are the outgoing prime minister, environment minister Tomáš Chalupa, education minister Petr Fiala, defense minister Vlastimil Picek who is to remain in office in the Rusnok caretaker administration and the head of the government’s legislative council Petr Mlsna. A number of ministers have refused to attend in what is seen as an obvious snub to the head of state, whom the centre-right parties accuse of establishing a presidential “puppet” administration.
Outgoing finance minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Monday that the amount of money the state would borrow in 2013 would be 110 to 140 billion crowns lower than in previous years. Interest costs would go down and the state debt would decrease in annual terms for the first time in 15 years, Kalousek told journalists. The Finance Ministry has plans to borrow 230 billion crowns in 2013. Financial analysts say the news is not unexpected since the country’s financial reserves are excessive and it is not just possible but advantageous to borrow less.
Assessing his performance in office, outgoing finance minister Miroslav Kalousek said he was handing over the country’s finances in a far better shape than in which he received them from then-caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer. Mr. Kalousek said his one big regret was not having convinced the coalition government to make the second pillar of the pension reform compulsory for all. He blamed the failure of the second pillar scheme on what he called a "massive counter-campaign by the opposition”. The second pillar enables people to put part of their pension funds into private insurance companies. Interest in it has been far lower than expected and the opposition Social Democrats say they will scrap the scheme if they get to form the next government.
A model of the Nazi internment camp for Czech Romanies at Lety was unveiled at the camp’s original site in Lety on Monday. The model was made by business school students in Teplice and completing it was a painstaking process since there is no proper documentation of the site. The students worked on the basis of several faded photographs from private photo-collections. The last survivor interned at the camp died last year. Over 1300 Romanies were interned in the Lety camp during the Nazi occupation, 327 of them perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz.
A newborn baby girl who was dumped into a waste container in the town of Cheb was found in time and is in an incubator in hospital. The baby was suffering from hypothermia, but was otherwise unhurt. Police have asked potential witnesses to come forward. It is not clear why the child was dumped in a garbage container when there is a baby box in Cheb where the newborn would have received immediate attention.
Czech Railways has announced that due to regular maintenance work in the summer months trains between Olomouc and Prostějov will not be running on schedule from Monday to Friday. Some trains will be rerouted via Přerov, others will be replaced by a special bus service. Passengers are asked to verify their connection on the internet or check with information before setting out.