Czech President Václav Klaus on Thursday vetoed the government’s proposed anti-crisis package. Mr Klaus complained that the package - aimed at boosting the economy – was discriminatory, unsystematic and contained many errors. He picked out in particular the proposed new for old scrap car incentive. The president said this favoured one part of industry with a powerful lobby at the expense of other sectors of the economy. He added that the results from such scrap incentives were short-lived and at best debatable. The package also contains measures to offer employees in-work training to stop them being laid off and faster tax write-offs for companies. The anti-crisis package was agreed between the two biggest Czech political parties, the Civic Democrats and Social Democrats. They should be able to overturn the president’s veto.
New political party Top 09 has signed a strategic alliance with the Movement for Mayors and Independents. The agreement – which is valid until 2012 – commits them to cooperate long after October’s parliamentary elections. Top 09 founder - former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek - said that Karel Schwarzenberg would lead the party’s list in the capital, Prague, and would be its candidate for prime minister. Mr Schwarzenberg was foreign minister in the former centre-right coalition government. Recent polls have suggested Top 09 could pass the 5.0 percent threshold to win seats in parliament.
Czech unemployment climbed to its highest level in two-and-a-half years in June. The jobless rate rose to 8.0 percent from May’s 7.9 percent, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The figure is in line with analysts’ expectations. The overall number of unemployed ready and seeking work now stands at 453,000. But the trend of sharply rising unemployment at the start of the year appears to have tailed off, partly blunted by the start of seasonal; summer jobs.
Staying with economic news, June’s inflation figure fell to 1.2 percent from May’s 1.3 percent. This is the lowest level for annual inflation since December 2003. Prices rises between May and June were flat with low food prices helping cancel out higher costs for fuel, the Czech Statistical Office said. The low inflation figure is likely to put the spotlight on the Czech National Bank and boost pressure for lower interest rates. The central bank took the surprise move of leaving rates unchanged two weeks ago.
The famous good luck plaque from Prague’s Charles Bridge will be going on show at the Czech pavilion of Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China. The plaque from under the statue of John of Nepomuk is traditionally touched to bring by hundreds of thousands of Czechs and visitors to good luck and a quick return to the Czech capital. Expo 2010 is launched on May 1.
The Czech Republic has been given a relatively clean bill of health by the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office. The country was among the countries with the lowest levels of misuse of European funds, the office said in its 2008 annual report released on Thursday. The office said it was only investigating two possible Czech fraud cases, one involving misuse of agricultural funds and the second of customs fraud. This compares with an ongoing caseload of around 300. The report said that more than half of the detected fraud occurred in just six of the EU’s 27 members. These were |Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Britain and Romania.
A Czech natural landmark had made it into the semi-finals of a Internet contest to select the seven natural wonders of the world. The Pravčická gate - a sandstone arch of 26.5 metres at its widest point – made it into the last 77 of the original 441 entries that have been voted on via the Internet. The sandstone arch is the symbol of the Bohemian Switzerland national park on the northern border with Germany. The final selection of sites will be revealed by the Swiss organisers of the competition on July 21 with voting continuing until 2011.
The Czech Republic’s prison system is under severe pressure but the service can cope with it, Justice Minister Daniela Kovářová told Czech Television on Thursday. The minister said there was no threat of the system collapsing, a warning she was reported to have made a day earlier. Czech prisons currently hold some 22,000 inmates, the highest number in nearly ten years. Some are operating at 115 and 120 percent above their capacity. Meanwhile, another 7,500 convicts have not yet started serving their sentences. The minister told Czech Television that electronic tagging, sentences served at home and the opening of new prisons and extensions should soon take off some of the pressure on the system.
Czech Davis Cup captain Jaroslav Navrátil has opted for Ivo Minář to play Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro on the opening day of the quarterfinals in Ostrava on Friday. Minář will stand in for Radek Štěpánek who is nursing a knee injury. Štěpánek is due to play in Saturday‘s doubles and could take the court for the final singles encounter on Sunday. Minář - who is ranked 64th in the world – has only played Davis Cup tennis for his country once before. Del Potro is ranked in the world top 10.
The weather is set to continue cloudy with showers and storms over the next few days. Maximum temperatures will reach 22 degrees Celsius.