Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has reached agreement with trade unions on maintaining their tax breaks. An income tax bill pushed through by a previous finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, was to have done way with tax exemptions for unions from the start of next year. That provision will now be dropped, the head of the Bohemian-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, Josef Středula, said after talks with Mr. Babiš. Benefits such as staff public travel passes and rewards for long-term service in the police or army will also now remain untouched by the changes to income tax legislation.
Customs officers in Prague have seized 16 tonnes of walnuts from Bolivia that could be harmful to health. The walnuts contain aflatoxins, which are among the strongest known carcinogens. None of the nuts reached consumers in the Czech Republic, a spokesperson for the customs authority said on Tuesday.
Czech athlete Barbora Špotáková has had to drop out of the women’s javelin at the Golden Spike in Ostrava due to illness. The Olympic champion and world record holder is suffering from suspected appendicitis. Sprint star Usain Bolt is also not coming this year to the Czech Republic’s biggest athletics meeting, but other big names such as Justin Gatlin are taking part.
Councilors in the district of Prague 7 agreed on steps on Monday to ban gambling venues: primarily affected would be outlets with video gambling terminals. The move must still be approved by Prague City Hall. A spokesman confirmed that Prague 7 had long pursued policies to curb gambling and had opted for zero tolerance based on the results of a recent referendum. The referendum was not conclusive due to a low voter turnout but a majority voted in favour of a complete ban as opposed to partial restrictions.
The mayor of the town of Dobroviz, Martin Saft, signed a cooperation agreement with developer Panattoni on Monday on the construction of a distribution centre for US company Amazon, Safr told the Czech News Agency. The agreement includes a pledge by the developer to build a local motorway bypass by the end of 2015, to modernise a municipal sewage treatment plant, and to contribute an annual one million crowns to the town.The investment is worth 100 million crowns and should pave the way for some 1,500 jobs. The distrubution centre is to be opened within a year. Panattoni director Pavel Sovička confirmed that preparatory work will begin this week.
City Hall has announced planned changes to Prague’s parking system: until now, so-called blue zones were reserved for local residents and businesses but a new phone app will make it possible for motorists to pay and park in blue-marked spaces for up to two hours. The planned change is primarily to make life easier for entrepreneurs who have found it exceedingly difficult to park in areas during the day. In addition, parking spots will also be labelled in orange and purple: purple will be for residents or for non-residents who pay via parking meter. The system should be broadened to districts that did not use blue zones until now. The proposal will still have to be passed by city councilors.
The Czech government approved preliminary state budget for 2015 with a deficit of 100 billion, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš revealed after the cabinet meeting on Monday. The government will continue to discuss the budget until September when it has to approve the draft and submit it to the Chamber of Deputies. The finance minister said the first round of the “marathon” was at an end and that the budget for next year included wage increases for firemen, police, and teachers as well as a rise in pensions and an increase in investment.
A contract between the city of Prague and eMoneyServices over the use of the transit and other purpose Opencard runs out after Monday. Prague was unable to reach an agreement with the firm on further cooperation and the city plans to take up administration of the card on its own for the time being. Card holders, of which there are a reported 1.2 million, have been promised they will not register any differences. eMOneyServices has said that while Prague can operate the system, it does not hold the rights to the software and will therefore not be able to fix bugs which come up or reprogram parts of the package.
The Czech government will propose to the president that Sir Nicholas Winton, the British national who saved more than 650 mostly Jewish children from the Holocaust by organizing the kindertransports out of Czechoslovakia before the start of WWII, receive the country’s highest honour – the Order of the White Lion. The decision was taken by the government on Monday, several weeks after President Miloš Zeman said he would award Sir Winton the distinction at the official ceremony held on October 28th, marking the founding of Czechoslovakia. The president himself made the announcement on the occasion of Sir Winton’s 105th birthday.
A 32-year-old foreign national was detained at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport on Sunday for attempting to smuggle 35 kilograms of rare African elephant tusks along with methamphetamine in a piece of luggage, customs officials have revealed. The package was reportedly destined for Vietnam. Officials estimate the tusks alone could be worth the equivalent of a million crowns when sold in Asia and but twice that amount in China.