The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut down its forecast of next year’s growth of the Czech economy from a previously estimated 2.9 percent to 1.8 percent of the gross domestic product. At the same time, the IMF slightly upped its estimate for this year’s growth to 2.0 percent. The renewed estimates are part of a global economy outlook which is threatened by the EU’s debt crisis and the lack of a fiscal plan in the US. The Czech Finance Ministry in July predicted the country’s growth in 2012 at 2.5 percent.
Several Czech analysts said the IMF’s outlook for the Czech economy reflected worsening global conditions but also warned that the reality might be much worse should the EU’s leading economies slip into recession.
The American Republican Senator Charles Grassley again held up the nomination of the American ambassador to Prague, Norman Eisen, the Czech news agency ČTK reported on Tuesday quoting US Senate records. This means that Mr Eisen, who was appointed to the post at the end of last year for a period of 12 months, might soon have to leave office.
Senator Grassley, who objects to Mr Eisen’s role in the sacking of another White House official, held up Mr Eisen’s nomination in 2009. But President Barack Obama appointed him temporarily taking advantage of a loophole allowing the president to push through nominations while Congress is in recess. The post of the US ambassador to Prague had been vacant for two years before Norman Eisen took office.
At a session of the Czech lower house that began on Tuesday, MPs are debating a constitutional bill that would introduce a popular vote for the president. The bill however does not enjoy overall support in the house despite having been put forth by both the coalition and opposition parties. While the centre-right coalition would like to increase the powers of a directly-elected president, opposition Social Democrats and Communists expressed concern that a head of state with extended powers might become a tool of partial interests. If approved by both houses of Parliament and signed into law by the president, it would allow people to choose the successor of Václav Klaus in a direct vote in 2013.
President Vaclav Klaus has warned against what he sees as a growing tendency to restrict personal freedom and democracy in the interest of global governance. Speaking at the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute on Monday the Czech president said he was now living in a better world than under communism, but he was still disappointed by the fact that he was not living in a more free and liberal society. He said there were strong tendencies to “govern people’s lives” not just from the EU but from NGOs and public intellectuals without any democratic accountability. The Czech president is a frequent guest speaker at the Competitive Enterprise Institute which was founded by Fred Smith, a fierce opponent of strong governance.
The German “forest boy”, known as Ray, who emerged from a forest near Berlin earlier this month and whose identity remains a mystery to the German authorities, might have lived in the Czech Republic and buried his father there, Germany’s Bild and the UK’s Daily Mail newspapers reported on Tuesday. The boy, who is believed to be between 16 and 18 years old, told the authorities he had been living out in the wild with his father for the last five years. When his father died weeks ago, the boy buried him and went north, as his father told him. The papers quote a spokesman for the German police as saying his father could possibly be buried in the Krušné hory mountains in northern Bohemia. Czech police have reportedly joined in the investigation.
The governments of the Czech Republic and the British Crown Dependency of Guernsey, in the English Channel, have signed an agreement on the exchange of tax information, the Czech Finance Ministry said on Tuesday. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said the agreement was going to have a positive impact on Czech public finances as it narrows the space for tax evasions.
The number of Czechs filing for early retirement in the first eight months of 2011 tripled compared to the previous year, according to government figures released on Tuesday. More than 66,000 people filed for early retirement in that period. The authorities believe the increase was triggered by a change in the retirement law which will take effect at the end of the month, and is generally expected to decrease retirement pensions.
A 44-year-old man, who suffered from cancer, shot himself dead in his hospital bed in the north Moravian town of Havířov, the news agency ČTK reported on Tuesday. The incident took place on Monday evening, September 5, when he used his legally held handgun to commit suicide. The terminally ill patient did not injure any members of the staff. The police are not investigating how the man got the weapon to the hospital.
Sparta Prague beat Baník Ostrava 2:0 in the seventh round of the top Czech football division, reinforcing their position at the top of the league table. Sparta scored early on, but the home side then put up fierce resistance that only began to crumble when Baník striker Václav Svěrkoš was sent off for repeated elbowing. In the 85th minute, Sparta’s Léonard Kweuke set the final score at 2:0. Sparta Prague now leads the table with full 21 points, followed by Liberec with 14 points; Plzeň and Jablonec in the shared third place now have 13 points.
Olympic speed skating champion Martina Sábliková on Tuesday failed to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in cycling after she finished 28th in time trial at the world cycling championships in Copenhagen. To qualify for the London Olympics, the 24-year-old athlete needed to finish 8th at the worst. The speed skater took cycling as part of her summer preparation but has since competed in this sport as well.
The next few days should be mostly overcast with morning fogs and occasional rain showers. Daytime highs should reach 22 degrees Celsius.