Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra said Sunday that exceeding the planned budget deficit could bring about the fall of the government. In a debate on Czech Television, Mr Vondra said that the leading Civic Democrat and TOP 09 are not considering raising corporate tax, as has been demanded by the opposition and the junior coalition party Public Affairs. A one-percent increase in the corporate tax would bring some 7 billion crowns to the state coffers, though not immediately. Only an increase in VAT would have an immediate effect, Mr Vondra pointed out. Tax revenues have been rising year-on-year, but less than the Finance Ministry has planned. The 2011 budget deficit is set at 135 billion crowns. The coalition has agreed on a VAT increase from 10 to 14 percent in 2012. As of 2013, the two VAT rates (14 and 20 percent) are to unify at 17.5 percent.
Mr Vondra also said during his Czech TV appearance that Czech soldiers would begin withdrawing from Afghanistan this year. In reaction to criticism from Social Democrat deputy chairman Lubomír Zaorálek, who said the Czech Republic is not responding to changes in US policy in Afghanistan, Mr Vondra said that the withdrawal of a helicopter unit this year and at least 100 soldier in 2012 should be interpreted as a gradual withdrawal. American President Baracck Obama recently announced that Us troops would begin a withdrawal from the ten-year engagement. Prime Minister Petr Nečas responded to that announcement last week by saying that would act like a reliable NATO ally and would not take any unilateral steps.
Culture Minister Jiri Besser will propose that the state earmark half a billion crowns for support of film productions next year, compared to this year´s 300 million crowns, a sum that has been completely spent already. Speaking on Czech Television in Sunday, Mr Besser said he believed he would get 300 million crowns for film production during the 2012 budget bill debate, but would be demanding 500 million crowns. Economists say the state will benefit from such incentives, estimating profits of at least 18 to 20 percent for the state.
Local elections in 24 communities around Bohemia and Moravia have yielded clear results in only 14 areas as of Sunday. Ten other races were too close to call. The situation is opposite to that of April’s local elections, where only nine out of 50 communities had clear winners. One community selected a mayor nine months late because no candidate could be found; nonetheless, voter turnout for that sole candidate was 70%. The most successful of the candidates overall were from the ‘Mayors’ Movement’ or were independents, followed by Social Democrats. The results of the elections have been published by the Czech Statistical Office on the website www.volby.cz.
A newborn child was left in a babybox in the northern Moravian town of Šumperk on Sunday morning. The newborn, a girl, was left naked and with placenta attached; the hospital says she is in full health and has been given the name Kateřina. Babybox founder Ludvík Hess says it is the 51st child left in one of the heated boxes, the second case in Šumperk, and the third time a baby has been left with placenta attached. Babyboxes were conceived as a safe any anonymous way for a parent to hand over a child they are unwilling or unable to care for. The facilities are used in many neighbouring countries and there are 44 of them at various locations around the Czech Republic.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová is attending the Wimbledon champions’ ball on Sunday evening after winning women’s singles tournament on Saturday against Russian Maria Sharapova, 6-3, 6-4. The 21-year-old said she had been receiving been receiving congratulatory text meesages all day from friends from her hometown of Fulnek in Moravia and from other Czech sports stars like Jaromír Jágr and Roman Šebrle. Kvitová said Sunday she was looking forward to the ball, but was glad that dancing was not mandatory. Petra Kvitová is the first Czech to win the women’s singles tournament since Jana Notovná, 13 years ago. On Monday she will move up to a career record of world no. 7 on the WTA list.
Czech meteorologists have cancelled flood warnings for various, mostly mountainous, regions where heavy rainfall is expected on Sunday. Warnings were issued for the regions of Liberec, Ústí nad Labem, Moravia-Silesia and Zlín. The meteorological institute now says it expects water flows to remain in the riverbeds. A warning of strong winds remains in place.
The rest of the weekend is expected to be cool and rainy with highs of around 16° Celsius.