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Government approves next year’s budget with 2.3 percent deficit

The Czech government on Monday approved the state budget for next year with a deficit of 100 billion crowns, or 2.3 percent of the country’s GDP, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said. The state expenditures should next year reach 1.219 trillion crowns. The draft budget takes into account the planned introduction of a lower, 10-percent VAT rate on certain goods as well as the cancellation of fees for visiting a doctor, higher tax breaks for families with children and a slight increase in pensions. The draft budget for 2015 is now set for a debate in the lower house of Parliament.

Some 110,000 EU nationals entitled to vote in Czech local elections

Around 110,000 EU nationals, both permanent and temporary residents of the Czech Republic, are entitled to vote in the municipal elections scheduled for October 10 and 11, the State Electoral Commission said on Monday. The announcement comes after a Brno court upheld a Slovak man’s demand to register for the elections. A local town hall in Brno turned the man down arguing he was a temporary resident. But the court said EU nationals must meet stricter conditions to become permanent residents than Czech citizens. The State Electoral Commission said additional ballots had been printed in order to allow EU citizens to participate in the voting.

Public employees set for pay raise in November

The government has approved a 3.5 percent increase in the salaries of public employees, effective of November. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová said the government had saved up around one billion crowns in this year’s budget which was enough to pay for the increase in November and December. The government was originally planning to raise the salaries in January. The wages of some 930,000 public sector employees such as teachers, health care workers, police officers, and others, will increase by an average 730 crowns a month.

Stricter rules for Czech food importers

The government on Monday approved stricter rules for Czech food importers. Companies importing animal food products and selected vegetable foodstuffs will have to notify the authorities two days before the arrival of the goods, and inform them of the planned retail price of the products. The government believes the rules will help prevent the Czech food market from being flooded with foreign products sold at dumping prices as a consequence of sanctions between the EU and Russia.

Another shipment of ammunition sent to Kurdish forces

A third shipment of military aid for the Kurdish forces in northern Iraq was dispatched from the Pardubice airport on Monday, the news agency ČTK reported. Transport aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force with some two million machine gun rounds on board left shortly before 1 PM for the Kurdish regional capital Irbil. Last month, the Czech government approved military aid to the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State terrorists in Iraq worth 41 million crowns, consisting mainly of ammunition and grenades. The final shipment is scheduled for September 24.

New road connection between Brno and Vienna to open by 2018

A new road connection the south Moravian city of Brno with the Austrian capital Vienna should be completed by 2018, Czech Transport Minister Antonín Prachař said after meeting the Lower Austrian governor, Erwin Pröll. Mr Prachař said the existing two-lane road between Brno and Mikulov was sufficient, and a bypass of the border town of Mikulov will be added to channel through traffic out of the town. In Austria, a motorway will be completed by 2017 that will end some 15 km south of the Czech-Austrian border.

Romany, Russian consumers face discrimination, trade authority finds

The Czech Trade Inspection Authority found 19 cases of Romany and Russian consumers being discriminated against in the first six months of the year, the agency said in a press released on Monday. On two occasions, Russian clients were denied accommodation in Czech hotels over the situation in Ukraine, the authority said. In four cases, real estate agents discriminated against their Romany customers by setting restrictive conditions for them, and in one case, Romany clients were not granted entry into an unspecified establishment. The authority also found that foreign customers are often charged higher prices compared to locals.

Sixty-year-old suspect charged with attempted murder

A 60-year-old suspect who was caught by police after a two-day manhunt in the Bruntál area has been charged with attempted murder, among other crimes. The man allegedly attacked and seriously injured a 59-year-old woman and also posed a threat to others. Dozens of police spent the better part of two days trying to hunt down the suspect in the area near the Polish border; they managed to capture him at 2 AM on Saturday using night vision equipment. If found guilty, the suspect could face an exemplary sentence.

Czech Olympic Committee clears Kreuziger of doping charges

The Czech Olympic Committee has ruled that rider Roman Kreuziger did not breach anti-doping rules. In August, the Tinkoff-Saso rider was suspended by the International Cycling Union over irregularities in his biological passport registered in 2011 and 2012. However, the arbitration panel of the Czech Olympic Committee said on Monday that the anomalies did not exceed any limits. Monday’s verdict can be appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Czech tennis player improves to career-high 31st spot in WTA rankings

Czech tennis player Karolína Plíšková improved to career-high 31st spot in WTA rankings after securing her second title win at the weekend. The player, who is 22, has had an excellent season, reaching four finals and converting once. The number one Czech women's player Petra Kvitová is ranked third on the same list. In men's tennis, Tomáš Berdych is at number 7 in the top ten.