The Central Executive Committee of the largest party in the emerging new Czech government, the Social Democrats, has, as expected, approved a coalition agreement reached with ANO and the Christian Democrats. The party’s chairman, Bohuslav Sobotka, said no serious objections to the coalition deal had been raised at Saturday’s meeting at Prague’s Congress Centre. Mr. Sobotka said the new government – which has pledged not to raise taxes – would make savings in the running of the state but not at the expense of individuals. The country is on the edge of recession, he said, and required a government that would waste no time in supporting growth.
The three parties of the emerging centre-left coalition have released the
details of the future government’s policy programme. The Social
Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats plan no tax hikes next year as
they agreed to postpone any changes to the tax system for 2015. The
emerging coalition would however like to raise the taxes on betting and
lottery, and cut the VAT rates on medicines, books, and other goods. The
three parties plan to raise pensions and the minimum wage, and to scrap
direct payments for medical care; they want to invest more into transport
infrastructure, and pursue self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs. The
agreement also suggests the next government will only go ahead with the
expansion of the Temelín nuclear plant if it’s economically viable.
Christian Democratic leaders are to discuss the agreement at the weekened while ANO is set to debate it next week. Leadership of the Social Democrat party, meanwhile, approved the deal unanimously on Friday.
In related news, the Christian Democrats are demanding a better deal in the distribution of ministerial posts, party leader Pavel Bělobrádek told the news site iDnes on Friday. The Christian Democrats, the weakest party in the potential coalition, are not prepared to accept two ministerial positions offered by their partners, and demand at least one more post, Mr Bělobrádek said. The Christian Democrats have been offered the culture and health ministries, neither of which they particularly wanted to manage. In a reaction, leader of the ANO party, Andrej Babiš rejected the demands and said the proposed distribution reflected the parties’ election results.
Czech fugitive Radovan Krejčíř has been denied bail by a South African court after his attorneys on Friday failed to convince the court Mr Krečíř would not flee the country. Radovan Krejčíř and three of his local associates are being held in police custody on charges of kidnapping and attempted murder. Mr Krejčíř is wanted in the Czech Republic where he was sentenced to 11 years in jail for fraud. He fled the country and eventually settled in South Africa in 2007.
The Slovak state-owned rail operator ZSSK has placed an order for eight electric train units of the 671 class, worth 77 million euro, or 2.1 billion crowns, with the Czech producer Škoda Vagonka, the Slovak company said on Friday. The first trains should be delivered by the end of next year, a spokeswoman for the rail operator said. The order came after the European Commission approved a project of modernization of suburban and regional railway transport in Slovakia.
A former employee of the state-owned forestry firm Lesy ČR has been charged with corruption in public procurement, the police said on Friday. The man, identified by the media as the firm’s former IT manager Jan Přibyl, was detained earlier this week. The investigation was triggered by the Finance Ministry which found last year the forestry firm awarded hundreds of millions of crowns worth of IT contracts to the same two companies over the period of several years.
Czech tax authorities have asked some 4,000 truck owners in the country to pay the taxes they owe on their vehicles, amounting in total to around 50 million crowns, a spokeswoman for the authority said. The authorities found that most truck owners failed to pay the road tax despite the fact that vehicles heavier than 3.5 tonnes are subject to taxation regardless of whether they are used for business. The Czech Republic each year collects around six billion crowns in road tax, which represents about 1 percent of total tax revenues, according to the daily Hospodářské noviny.
The Czech Food Inspection Office has warned there is still unlicensed and potentially dangerous alcohol on the market. In the third quarter inspectors checked out over 1,000 sales outlets and came across three which had alcohol without license stamps on stock. The warning comes ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations when the sale of alcoholic beverages skyrockets. Police say that in the wake of the methanol scandal which killed close to 40 people in the Czech Republic there could still be thousands of litres of dangerous, methanol-laced spirits on the market.
The Czech NGO called Give Our State Back on Friday filed a lawsuit against former prime minister Petr Nečas over his role in the controversial amnesty declared in January 2013 by then president Václav Klaus. In his role as the prime minister, Mr Nečas counter-signed the amnesty; however, the news website aktualne.cz reported Mr Nečas said he only signed the document in return for the president’s consent with some of his government’s legislation. The NGO believes Mr Nečas abused his power by agreeing to the deal. The amnesty of president Václav Klaus freed about 6,500 convicts and halted the prosecution of some long-running corruption cases.
The police have charged three foreign nationals over the murder of Latvian man whose body was found on the outskirts of Prague last week, a spokesman for the Prague police said. A Moldovan man and a Ukrainian woman have been detained and placed in police custody; the former has been charged with murder, the latter with a failure to report the crime. Another Moldovan national, suspected of taking part in the crime, is wanted by the police. If convicted, the woman faces three years in prison while the two men could land extraordinary sentence of 25 years.