Parliament’s Budget Committee has recommended the lower house approve the basic parameters of the state budget proposal for 2016. The budget put forward by the finance minister and approved by the government is counting on a 70 billion crown deficit as opposed to this year’s 100 billion. The Finance Minister Andrej Babiš told the committee the budget, as proposed, would pump money into the economy and would stimulate economic growth. Deputy leader for TOP 09, Miroslav Kalousek, appealed to the committee to send the proposal back to the government for changes; he said the government needed to slash spending next year by an additional 20 billion crowns or more.
Former interior minister Ivan Langer has been released by police after questioning in an investigation reportedly linked to the sale of a solar power plant, Czech Television reported. In an extensive operation on Tuesday, police conducted a search of Mr. Langer’s home in Olomouc and also detained a close associate of his, Ivan Kyselý. In addition, the police’s internal affairs squad questioned the deputy head of the anti-corruption police and the director of the criminal police in connection with the case. The investigation relates to the sale of the Ševětín solar plant in South Bohemia, a transaction in which Mr. Langer’s law firm was reportedly involved.
Olomouc regional governor Jiří Rozbořil, whose office was searched for several hours by the police on Tuesday in connection with a broader case, cleared his schedule on Wednesday and did not show up for work, the Czech News Agency reported, quoting the office’s spokeswoman Kamila Navrátilová. The spokeswoman said she had no information about the governor’s whereabouts. On Tuesday, the anti-corruption police detained several individuals in Olomouc and Prague for questioning, including former interior minister Ivan Langer whose home was also searched. On Wednesday, Olomouc’s high state prosecutor Ivo Ištván confirmed no charges have so far been pressed against any of those detained, all of whom have since been released.
A Czech betting agency is offering odds on whether police will find a wine box stuffed with millions belonging to former interior minister Ivan Langer, investigated and questioned by the police. Police detained the former minister and others in raids on Tuesday. The ‘wine box’ is a reference to a scandal involving another former politician, David Rath. The company, Fortuna, is offering the shortest odds on Mr Langer being charged with corruption. Other options, such as his being charged with bicycle theft, are decidedly long shots. No one has been charged in the case thus far.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš has again clashed with his predecessor as finance minister Miroslav Kalousek (the deputy head of the TOP 09 party). Most recently, the two politicians clashed in a TV debate programme. On Wednesday, the politicians traded barbs during the regular session of the lower house, with Mr Babiš claiming his predecessor had in the past been investigated for giving the green light to online gambling in the Czech Republic. Mr Kalousek denied ever having been the subject of a criminal investigation over the matter and challenged the finance minister to a 10 million crown bet to prove it. Mr Babiš, who accepted, told Czech Radio he considered it won.
The region of Zlín reviewed more than 130 damages claims in connection with measures taken by fire fighters, the military and police pyrotechnicians, at a now defunct munitions site in Vrbětice last year. The region is asking that roughly 1.15 million crowns be paid by the Interior Ministry to 38 claimants. Damages pertain largely to losses suffered by local businesses, as the result of intervention by security personnel to stabilise the damaged site. Roughly a year ago, two storage buildings at the munitions site in Vrbětice were destroyed by a massive explosion which scattered additional material and rendered the entire site unstable and highly dangerous for months. Two employees died in the initial blast.
City representatives in Ostrava have approved the signing of a deal for the sale of plots at Mošnov to South Korea’s Hyundai Mobis for 69 million crowns, where the firm plans to build a factory for the production of car headlights. The company will recover its investment through subsidies, the city’s mayor, Tomáš Macura, said. The contract is to be signed within a few days; production of the new plant could begin in the near future, the Czech News Agency said.
A decision by Winfried Vahland, the head of Škoda Auto, to leave the Volkswagen Group is not related to the company’s recent emissions scandal, Škoda Auto spokesman Jozef Baláž told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. Mr Vahland was to take over the management of Volkswagen operations in North America as of November, but in the end decided to leave the German firm entirely. According to information provided by company representatives to the Czech News Agency, private reasons played a role.
Traffic in the region of Karlovy Vary was strongly affected on Wednesday by the first snowfall of the season; roads saw some five centimetres of fresh snow in areas, including parts of the R6 throughway. Fire fighters were called out to clear fallen trees or branches in places. Traffic slowed and transport trucks, including vehicles still on summer tires, had to take extra caution. By law, the latest date for transferring to winter tires is November 1.
The Czech Republic have come first in their qualifying group for soccer’s Euro 2016 after a 3:2 win over the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Tuesday night. The visitors went 2:0 up in the first 31 minutes thanks to goals from Pavel Kadeřábek and Josef Šural before Holland’s Robin van Persie scored an own goal. He and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar later found the net for the hosts but the Czechs held on for their second win over the Netherlands in a successful qualification campaign.