The shadow finance minister Jan Mládek announced that if his party, the Social Democrats, will come to power after the parliamentary elections in 2014, they will introduce a progressive personal income tax with a highest rate of 38 percent of the gross salary. Speaking at the Social Democratic congress on Saturday, Mr Mládek said the Social Democrats will raises corporate taxes from 19 to 21 percent, and create a special 30-percent tax for large financial, energy and telecommunication companies.
Twenty-four of the total 34 soldier set to take part in a EU mission in Mali left Prague on Saturday morning. Czech troops will first be guarding the base for the EU training mission and later will also be helping in the training of Malian soldiers. This is the first operation in Africa for the Czechs. They will be spending a total of 15 months in Mali.
A plaque commemorating former Czechoslovak president and general Ludvík Svoboda was unveiled in his hometown of Hroznatín in the Vysočina region on Saturday. A few hundred people attended the ceremony to commemorate soldiers of the First Czechoslovak Army Corp, which Svoboda commanded and which fought alongside the Soviet Red Army on the Eastern Front during World War Two. This week marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the battle of Sokolovo, during which Soviet and Czechoslovak troops were able to stop the German army’s advance into eastern Ukraine.
Gabriela Soukalová claimed her third victory this season on Saturday at the Biathlon World Cup in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia. The 23-year-old won the women’s 10K pursuit with two penalties, ahead of Russia’s Olga Vilukhina and Norway’s Olympic champion Tora Berger. Soukalová had also come first in the sprint on Thursday evening. Her first victory of the season, and the first World Cup gold of her career, came this past December when she won the women’s sprint in Slovenia.
The incumbent Social Democrat leader, Bohuslav Sobotka was re-elected
party chairman at a congress in Ostrava on Friday. Mr Sobotka, who faced
challengers for the post, was backed by more than 500 of 600 delegates at
the event. After the vote, Bohuslav Sobotka said the party must present a
realistic programme for the next general election, rather than populist
promises. The opposition is generally expected to win the next
parliamentary election, scheduled for 2014. The re-elected chairman also
said the first legislation to be passed by his government would be an act
on property declarations.
The Social Democrat congress also re-elected Michal Hašek the party's first deputy chair; 13 people, including Social Democrat presidential candidate Jiří Dienstbier, are meanwhile running for five posts of deputy chairs.
President Miloš Zeman addressed the Social Democrat party conference in Ostrava on Friday. In his 20-minute speech, the president said that if the Social Democrats win the next general election, they should form a one-party government. Mr Zeman also said that as president, he was non-partisan but as a citizen, he wished the party victory at the polls. In his much anticipated address, President Zeman, himself a former Social Democrat leader, also rejected the idea he would use his influence to split the party over a conflict that made him leave the Social Democrats in 2007. President Zeman received standing ovations from the congress during his address.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has no news of two Czech tourists who had been kidnapped in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, a spokeswoman for the ministry said. The ministry has set up a crisis team to deal with the situation but has received no concrete information from Pakistani authorities of the whereabouts of the two women, or who could have kidnapped them. Friends and family of the abducted Czech travellers have meanwhile set up an internet website in their support.
A court in Hodonín on Friday acquitted MP Otto Chaloupka, of the opposition Public Affairs party, of corruption charges. Mr Chaloupka faced accusations that he made his assistant pay 60,000 crowns as contribution to the party’s campaign ahead of the 2010 general election. The court also acquitted the assistant who was accused of bribery; the judge argued there was no proof that any corruption occurred. The prosecutor said he would decide whether he would appeal the verdict at a higher court.
Army general Vlastimil Picek is set to become the country’s new defense minister, according to government sources cited by the CTK news agency. The former army chief of staff, who currently serves as deputy defence minister, is a widely respected expert in the field though his appointment to the post is vehemently opposed by the smallest party in government LIDEM which wanted a civilian to lead the Czech Defence Ministry. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has strongly advocated the general’s appointment and has reportedly won over the TOP 09 party for the idea. The coalition had come under fire both from the military and from opposition benches for procrastinating in filling the crucial government post which has been vacant for some three months.
The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has unveiled a new plan to combat rising levels of unemployment. Minister Ludmila Müllerová who presented the plan at a news conference in Prague on Friday, said the ministry would spend around seven billion crowns on the programme which includes subsidies for companies which give jobs to unemployed people under 30, support for part-time jobs for mothers and long-term job-seekers, as well as subsidies for the jobless who will become self-employed. The ministry also plans to enhance assistance and support for municipalities, NGOs as well as job seekers.