President Miloš Zeman appointed ANO chairman Andrej Babiš as prime minister of the Czech Republic. The move is the first step toward the formation of a government to replace the outgoing cabinet headed by Bohuslav Sobotka.
At a ceremony at Prague Castle on Wednesday, Mr Babiš highlighted the country’s role in the fight of illegal migration, saying that the government needs to take a more active approach in dealing with illegal migrant smuggling.
Mr. Babiš is planning to form a minority government that also includes a number of non-ANO members. Five of the party’s ministers in the previous government are to remain there in the new formation.
President Zeman plans to hold talks with Mr. Babiš’s new ministerial nominees before appointing the new government in a week’s time. It will then have to undergo a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies within 30 days.
At present only the Communist Party have said they will, under certain conditions, tolerate a minority ANO cabinet
The current government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats, led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, held its last meeting on Wednesday. President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday formally accepted the government’s resignation and is due to name ANO leader Andrej Babiš prime minister later on Wednesday afternoon.
The outgoing Sobotka government will continue its work until next week, when president Zeman is expected to formally appoint a minority ANO government.
Since October elections, in which ANO took almost 30 percent of the vote and 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house, the government has limited its activities to urgent matters and European affairs.
The Parliamentary Defense Committee has recommended the lower house to approve the defense budget for next year, envisaging expenditure of 58.9 billion crowns. The figure is 6.4 billion higher than in the previous year.
The money will allocated for instance for the salaries of new soldiers or for the purchase of ammunition, according to a draft budget presented by the Defense Ministry on Wednesday.
The budget is likely to grow further in the following year to 66.6 billion and in 2020 to 77.3 billion crowns. Despite the increase, the level of spending is expected to reach only 1.35 percent of GDP in 2020, while the current government coalition agreed to ensure that the Czech Republic earmarks 1.4% of GDP by 2020.
The Czech Army will next year greatly increase the number of its soldiers serving abroad in NATO missions, Czech Television reported. While at present there are 400 Czech troops active in such missions, in 2018 the number will rise to 1,100.
The Czech contingent in Iraq will get the single largest boost, with an extra 300 soldiers due to be deployed to the country. The cost of the military’s foreign operations could double to almost CZK 3 billion next year, Czech Television said.
Czech troops are currently on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and the Sinai Peninsula.
Several non-governmental organisations have called on ANO party leader and future Prime Minister Andrej Babiš not to scrap the post of minister for human rights and minorities in his new government.
Abolishing the post would complicate enforcement of equal opportunities and fight against discrimination. The organisation representatives made the appeal on Wednesday during an event at the Milada Horáková monument in Prague.
Mr Babiš has made clear he didn’t want to keep the post of human rights minister in his cabinet. It is not yet clear who will be in charge of the human rights and minorities agenda.
Despite retail sales growth in October being slightly behind market expectations, analysts expect a record year for the retail sector. Consumer confidence in the economy is the highest in the history of the Czech Republic.
According to the figures released by Czech Statistical Office on Wednesday, Czech retail sales, with the exception of cars, in October slowed down to 6.3 percent compared with the same month a year earlier.
Fuels, non-food and food-sales rose higher, with the highest growth in sales recorded over the Internet and via mail order firms.
Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy with daytime highs ranging between one and five degrees Celsius.
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