Planned government reforms will bring the salaries of public sector employees down by 20 percent over the next four years, Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told Czech TV on Sunday. The government is planning to cut the salaries of state employees by 10 percent next year, this, together with a three-year freeze on the salaries, will mean they will decrease by 20 percent by 2014, Mr Kalousek said. Until now, salaries in the public sector have been rising by 3-4 percent a year.
Earlier this week, some 40,000 trade union members protested the planed 10-percent cut at a rally in Prague. A trade union leader said on Saturday that if the government introduces some controversial changes to the labour code, the unions might call a general strike.
In related news, a new law on income tax could enter into force by 2012, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Sunday. Mr Kalousek said it would simplify the calculation of tax base, and remove most of the current income tax exemptions. The ministry should come up with a bill early next year; if approved by the government and passed by Parliament, the new law would enter into force in January 2012.
A record number of Czechs are running in October’s local elections, the news website lidvoky.cz reported on Sunday. More than 226,000 candidates will contest some 60,000 seats on city, town and village halls around the Czech Republic in the elections, held on October 15 and 16. In the first municipal elections after the fall of communism in 1994, some 160,000 people ran for seats; the lowest number of candidates, around 130,000 ran in 2002. Independent candidates won the highest number of seats in the previous local elections four years ago, followed by Civic and Social Democrats.
In the simultaneously held elections for the Czech Senate, 227 candidates will contest 27 of the upper chamber’s 81 seats.
Czech President Václav Klaus addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in the late hours of Saturday. In his ten-minute speech, the Czech president told the UN that it should pursue the goals laid out in the United Nations Charter, and not get involved in the world economics. Amid a debate on the UN’s new objective of global economic governance, Mr Klaus said the UN did not need any new objectives; it should instead reduce its budget and streamline its administration. President Klaus said the United Nations should become an organization effectively representing individual countries and their citizens.
Commenting on the world economic crisis, the Czech president said that more regulation would not prevent future crises but would rather destroy the markets, along with the chances for economic growth.
The Czech Interior Ministry is planning major changes to the country’s immigration police unit, TV Nova reported on Saturday. The ministry wants to discharge most of the officers serving under the central police headquarters in Prague; as of the beginning of next year, smaller immigration police units should be established under each of the country’s 14 regional police headquarters. While a police trade union leader said the move could lead to fewer police checks, Interior Minister Radek John said that with more immigration police officers in the regions, the supervision would increase.
Former agriculture minister and Civic Democrat MP Petr Gandalovič is likely to become the new Czech ambassador to the United States, the Czech news agency ČTK reported on Saturday. However, his appointment has been delayed by disputes between President Václav Klaus and the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, the agency said. Mr Gandalovič is one of eight new ambassadors proposed by the foreign ministry but the president does not agree with one of the appointments. The previous Czech ambassador, Petr Kolář, left Washington in July. Minister Schwarzenberg also said that there was no hurry in appoint the new envoy given the fact that the post of the US ambassador in Prague has been vacant since January 2009.
The Czech Film and Television Academy chose the film “Kawasaki’s Rose” by Jan Hřebejk to compete for the Oscar for the best foreign language film in 2011, the academy said on its website on Sunday. The 2009 drama tells the story of a respected psychiatrist and a former dissident, who is about to receive state honours when it turns out he had collaborated with the communist secret police.
“Kawasaki’s Rose” got nine nominations for the annual Czech film awards, Český lev, but only converted those for the best male and female actors in supporting roles.
A monument to “Farina’s Curve” was unveiled at Brno’s former racing circuit on Sunday. The curve, part of the old Masaryk racing circuit, was named after the Italian car racing driver Giuseppe “Nino” Farina soon after he crashed his car there in 1949, killing two spectators and injuring 12 others. A year later, Farina went on to become the first ever champion of the newly established Formula One. The circuit, built in 1930, stopped being used for races in 1987 when the new Masaryk Circuit was inaugurated, and is now used for regular traffic.
Five people were injured on Sunday when the train they were travelling on hit a truck on a railway crossing near the town Bruntál, in northern Moravia. The Croatian truck driver was taken to hospital and remains there for treatment. The crash derailed the engine and two cars of the train. The authorities estimate the damages at 10 million crowns.
Czech women’s national basketball team beat Japan 66 :60 in Brno on Saturday, and secured the second place in Group D at the world championship hosted by the Czech Republic. The Czechs built up a comfortable lead of 17 points by the end of the third quarter, but made serious mistakes in the final part and allowed the Japanese to bring the difference down to four points with three minutes to go. Czech forward Jana Veselá then converted two penalty shots and set the final score. The Czechs secured second place in their group and advanced to the round of eight, where they will next face Korea.
The top flight Czech football club Slavia Prague rejected on Saturday manager Karel Jarolím’s resignation. Jarolím offered to step down over a string of poor results; on Friday, Slavia lost 3:0 to Slovácko, failing to win for the sixth time in a row. After ten rounds of the top Czech division, Slavia has ten points and ranks tenth in the division chart, tailing 15 points behind league leaders Plzeň. Jarolím, who joined Slavia in 2005, has won two league titles and reached the Champions League with the club. Last season he left Slavia in March over poor results only to come back two months later.
Czech tennis player Petra Zakopalová lost to Russia’s Alisa Klebanova 1:6 and 3:6 in the final of the Korean Open on Saturday. The ninth-seeded Czech lost her service six times in the final; the fifth-seeded Russian was leading 5-0 in the first set when Zakopalová scored her first game. In the second set, the 28-year-old Czech was leading 3-1 but failed to score any more games after that. After the final, Zakopalová said her opponent was more aggressive and deserved to win.
The start of the week will be mostly overcast and cloudy, with rain across the country. Highest day temperatures should range between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius.