Social Democratic Party leader Jan Hamáček has received full backing from
the party’s deputies’ group in the lower house over the manner in which
he handled the crisis surrounding the naming of a new culture minister.
Mr. Hamáček said after Friday’s meeting of the group that he was confident he still enjoyed strong backing from the party leadership and there would be no attempts to undermine party unity.
The Social Democrat leader recently came under fire from some regional party members who said he should have been more emphatic in defending the party’s position in talks with the prime minister and president and even made good on his threat to walk out of the coalition government.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is to receive an additional 5.9
billion crowns in state funds in 2020, Labour Minister Jana Maláčová
said following marathon talks on money matters with Finance Minister Alena
Extra money for IT projects, as requested by the labour minister is still to be debated.
The draft budget for the ministry was originally set at 676.4 billion, a sum that Ms. Maláčová said was woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand. She had originally requested an additional 11 billion crowns.
Activists from the Extinction Rebellion environmental group briefly blocked
the entrance to the Ministry for Regional Development on Prague’s Old
Town Square shortly before noon on Friday demanding that the government
reduce emissions from fossil fuels and achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
The Ministry for Regional Development is represented in a government commission which will debate the gradual phasing out of coal mining and the country’s future energy mix. The activists argued that such a decision should be the result of a broad debate and consensus in society.
Twenty-four people are now reported to have been charged in a massive tax
evasion scam involving 270 million crowns, according to a spokesperson for
the National Centre for Combating Organised Crime.
The charges against seven foreign nationals and 17 Czechs who operated fictitious companies came following a largescale operation in close to 60 sites across the Czech Republic. All except two of the suspects are currently being held in custody.
The several–month-long operation involved over 400 police and customs officers both at home and abroad. In simultaneous raids on homes and offices the police secured assets worth 68 million crowns and a number of illegally held weapons.
The number of government programs for the employment of foreigners in Czech
companies will be halved as of September 1, the President of the Chamber of
Commerce Vladimír Dlouhý told reporters on Friday. The present six
programs will be reduced to three and the conditions for including workers
and employers in the program will be unified.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade will only handle employers' applications for highly qualified employees or researchers, while the Chamber of Commerce will assist companies with all other employee applications.
In the transformed Qualified Employee Program, the Chamber will accept applications from companies for workers from Ukraine, Montenegro, Serbia, the Philippines, India, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Mongolia. The government sets individual annual quotas for each country.
From September the quota for workers from Ukraine will also be gradually increased to 40,000 per year. So far it has been 19,600 people.
The former deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Czech
Republic (ÚZSI) Zdeněk Blahut has been charged with fraud and abuse of
office, the Public Prosecutor's Office in Prague reported on Friday.
No further details were released.
According to the news site idnes.cz Blahut’s detention is part of an ongoing investigation into the financial management of the Foreign Intelligence Service. The news site claims the police also questioned the former head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Jiří Šašek and the former interior minister Milan Chovanec, who appointed Blahut to office. Chovanec later dismissed the claim.
The Foreign Intelligence Service’s principal goal is to provide foreign intelligence vital for the security and protection of the Czech Republic’s foreign policy interests and economic interests.
Blahut served as its deputy head from September 2014 until January of this year.
At least five people were killed and over 100 injured in a severe
thunderstorm in the Tatra Mountains on the Slovak-Polish border, local
According to a Slovak mountain rescue team, a Czech national was among the victims. His female companion suffered a leg injury.
Four people, including a child were killed on the Polish side of the mountain range. The Tatra Mountains lie on the Polish border with Slovakia and form a natural divide between the two countries.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with the Social Democratic Party’s
nominee for culture minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, on Thursday evening to
discuss his priorities in office.
The prime minister said later he had no problem with the nomination and had sent an official request to the president regarding his appointment.
President Zeman earlier indicated he also approved of the choice and his spokesman said the appointment would take place on Tuesday.
The nomination has brought to an end a drawn-out crisis which threatened to topple the coalition government.
The Czech Army will acquire US combat and multipurpose helicopters Viper
and Venom. According to Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar, a combination of
two machines is more appropriate than the purchase of only multi-purpose
Black Hawk helicopters. The helicopters should be available in 2023.
The ministry received two offers for the purchase of helicopters from the US government in late June. The US administration offered either 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for 13.2 billion crowns or eight UH-1Y Venom helicopters along with four AH-1Z Viper helicopters worth 14.5 billion crowns. The price includes maintenance and training of personnel.
The bids were assessed by a committee made up of ministry and army representatives. The contract should be signed by the end of the year.
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